I have often wondered why no other man or woman has filled the shoes of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., but the answer is simple: no one can.
King was often compared to Moses of the Bible who led the children of Israel out of slavery toward the Promised Land. Just as there was only one Moses, there can only be one MLK, Jr.
Both came on the scene at a specific time for a specific purpose. Egypt for MLK was the racist systems that relegated blacks to second-class status in America. The promised land was equality: access to the same jobs, housing, and treatment that white Americans enjoyed.
While the Civil Rights Movement resulted in extraordinary progress for blacks there is yet work to do and it’s our job to do it. We can’t wait for an icon to come on the scene. We are on the scene now and our purpose is clear – coming from Jesus Himself – to care for those who have needs.
It’s not that hard to grasp, nor is it hard to do. We have to notice who’s marching in our streets, and who’s disrupting city council meetings. What are they asking for?
We may not like their methods, but many people hated King’s methods too. He was in Memphis at the time of his death to support striking sanitation workers in their defiance of the mayor. Moses wasn’t exactly Pharoah’s favorite either. Setting people free is an ugly, stressful process, not because of those who want freedom, but because of those who refuse to grant it.
Like Moses, King never saw the promised land. He even seemed to predict his death the night before he was assassinated. And a portion of that powerful mountaintop speech included a simple line that can easily be ignored: “I just want to do God’s will.”
Cries for equality must not fall on deaf Christian ears. We may never be able to fill King’s shoes, but we can want to do God’s will.
For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.