“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
Marting Luther King, Jr.
No one likes being wrong, and we especially despise the prophets who have the audacity to show us our fallacies, misconceptions and outright errors. Growing up in the Deep South in the 1960’s and 1970’s, I was wrong about a lot of important things. We all needed a troublesome prophet to rattle our sensitivities, to upset our worldview. My generation had such a prophet.
I was a baby when Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated on the second floor balcony of a motel room in Memphis. He was there to protest unfair treatment of black sanitation workers. He came as a prophet and died a martyr that afternoon, killed by someone that hated his message of fairness and equality.
Our sacred Scriptures are full of prophets who confronted evil with good news. Most were not treated well. Moses, Jeremiah, Isaiah, Amos, and Ezekiel all found scorn before renown. Jesus was certainly troubling to the Jewish and Roman power establishment with his message of serving and worship. He was crucified.
We should all be grateful for Martin Luther King, Jr., for disturbing us. He rattled our cages and caused us to argue, to rethink and to reimagine race relations. He caused us to evaluate our policies, to rewrite our laws, but more importantly, he caused us to look at the dark places of our hearts, places that would have never been exposed, except someone shine the light.
He marched through our streets, was held in our jails, and spoke in our capital, always elevating the conversation above our conventional wisdom, helping us see a better country that would only be realized if we would confront our fears and suspicions about people who looked different than us. He transcended us because he was a prophet to us. Prophets see something different and are not fearful about pointing out unseen truths to a blinded people.
Today, we’re mired in tribalism, divided by politics, ideology, theology and geography. We’ve made remarkable progress in so many spaces only to discover that we still have miles to go in so many others. We can either grow weary in our well doing or we can redouble our efforts and plow forward. The wilderness of our culture still needs guides and pioneers.
All of us can be prophetic voices, even in a world complicated by the tangle of opinions. Each conversation, social media post, and every prayer should be saturated with the bold proclamation that Christ is King and every person created bears His image. Let us not be silent until justice comes to the oppressed and those on the margins are known, embraced and helped.