“A Tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.”
Cognitive Dissonance is when a persons attitudes and beliefs conflict with their behavior. It’s when what I believe and what I do don’t seem to line up. This in turn creates tension that causes great discomfort. Why? (When you know better, you should do better). It often takes a God fearing prophet like John the Baptist or spiritual demagogue like the radical Jesus of the bible to reveal the conflict in people who’s beliefs are contrary to their actions.
John the Baptist pricked the conscience of the religious quo through his preaching in the wilderness. Jesus not only pricked the conscience of the religious quo but publicly exposed them in their own synagogues as hypocrites and thieves who were ignorant of God’s ways. They were ignorant of even God Himself. The religious folk in the days of Jesus were trying to be right with God through rituals, liturgy and works without recognizing their need of Jesus who had come as their Savior.
Here is what Jesus said:
39 You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me to have life.
In remembrance and honor of Dr. King, I believe that God raised him up to prick this nations conscience and to address (the elephant in the room) which is the “cognitive dissonance” that mars this nation until this very day. Like John the Baptist and the radical yet loving Jesus, Dr. King called out the hypocrisy that had a strong grip on the minds of portions of white America. Dr. King exposed the racist mindsets of the political leaders who were creating laws that systemically created an environment of poverty, ignorance and self-degradation among the black and minority population in the United States of America.
Dr. King brought attention to the sincere but false claim that this country loves to recite, “All men are created equal.” This is true “cognitive dissonance” and it needed radical confrontation. What this country said it believed and what was being lived out in society were contrary to each other. Dr. King without mincing his worlds called our nations behavior both hypocritical and racist.
I believe that Dr. King was a God sent demagogue A demagogue is a leader that espoused or “embraces” the cause of the common people. Dr. King was well educated. He was a student of the world and all of it’s religions. Yet, he related perfectly with the average Joe. He practiced a mild form of syncretism in many of his speeches and sermons. By this I mean he would quote other non-Christian leaders of other religions. He would often speak of a world where people were united and living in harmony with no regard as to race, creed or color.
I believe that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was used by God to help liberate the oppressed in this country. He was the voice of reason during a very cynical time in this nation. His peaceful protests were being juxtaposed to violence, the rhetoric and propaganda of those who where the oppressors, and it brought America to a tipping point. Once the world got a glimpse of the abuse and criminal activity of it’s citizens and legislators, something had to change.
As a young Morehouse College student barely 17 years of age he wrote these words in a letter to the editor:
“Black people are entitled to the basic rights and opportunities of all American citizens.”
Atlanta Constitution August 6, 1946
Dr. King grew in stature and in favor with God and man. He academically grew. He grew culturally. He visited other countries and met with world leaders of both secular and sacred persuasion. He believed that his message was right, his motives were pure and that one day this country would actually live out the words of the second paragraph of the declaration of Independence which reads:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.”
Dr. Kings efforts did not lead him to prominence and riches but rather led to his death by an assassins bullet.
Now, here is the one thing that I want to leave with you about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I believe he was the greatest human liberator that has ever walked this land called the United States of America. All of our young freedom fighters of today never forget that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a Christian. He preached the gospel from the Holy Bible. He used the power of love and the power of the true light that had come into the world as a means of resistance against the backlash that occurred because of his message and his cause. Many of the radicals in his day did not agree with his tactics. They wanted to take matters into their own hands. Create their own nation. Go back to Africa, etc. Not Dr. King. He said that his non-violent marches would bring shame and public embarrassment and create “cognitive dissonance” to the racist populace of America.
I have personally met and talked with three of Dr. Kings children. They will tell you that what motivated him was the word of God. They will tell you that what he preached was the gospel. They will tell you that what kept him and led him to do what he did was the Holy Spirit. Dr. King preached the gospel. He preached that Jesus came lived, died and rose again the third day according to the scriptures.
Dr. King died for what he believed. He is the most radical liberator of black people in this country that has ever lived. Yet, he never embraced the Black Conscience movement of his day. He never embraced the teaching of Islam and other radical, militant groups of his day. He’d meet with and compare notes with the likes of Stokely Carmichael and Malcolm X. He studied the writing and life of Gandhi and drew strength from the legacy of Marcus Garvey. He was fuel by the tragic events of Emmett Till and the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing He soaked in the philosophies of other world leaders who had achieve democracy through social justice. Yet, his core message never changed.
Here is the point I want to make. Though he met personally with giants of other religions and thought, Dr. King chose to keep embracing Christianity and the word of God was his source for strength and conviction. He didn’t consider himself a member of one of the lost tribes of Israel. He did not view the bible as an oppressive tool of the white man. He didn’t preach or teach that all religions are equal and all of it’s leaders divine. Dr. King did not believe that Christianity and the bible was a tool of conspiracy by white America to keep slaves enslaved and black folk subjugated for the use of manual labor and exploitation.
Dr. King stuck to the gospel. He preached Jesus as God’s only son and as God the son. This means that he believed in the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ. He was worldly wise but trusted only in God as his source of strength and preserver of his future. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was raised up by the God of the bible and he believed the gospel story until the end.
Dr. King was on assignment. I’m on assignment. You’re on assignment. Trust the grace on your life. Stick with the God of the bible. Stick with what Jesus called you to do. It’s crucial out here. Know what you believe and hold on to it. Know what your assignment in life is and keep your hands to the plow and don’t look back.
I salute the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. A man of great purpose. He knew his assignment and followed through with it until the end. I pray that there be no “cognitive dissonance” among us as the people of God. We should preach what we practice and better yet, “Practice what we preach.”
Mini sermon for today.
—Vaughn McLaughlin #biblicalliteracy