By Dex Johnson, AFAM Network Director
As I prepared to celebrate Black History Month, I reflected on the life, work, and labor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the area of racial equality. His exquisite “Letter from the Birmingham Jail” is of particular interest to me.
Dr. King addressed his letter to fellow clergymen as a response to their concern and criticism of his non-violent protests in their city, which landed him in jail. Although equality is something we strive for and should be the basic right of every human being, Christ’s expectation for His followers far exceeds equality. The New Testament provides the Golden Rule of treating others as we wish to be treated (Matthew 7:12) and commands us to “outdo one another in showing honor” (Romans 12:10). It’s too small to consider others of equal value, because Philippians 2:3 challenges us to humbly “value others above [ourselves].”
I often ask myself why God uses such extreme statements. As I consider the condition of our world today, I gather it will take something extreme to bring the restoration it desperately needs.
Just hours before His death, Christ, our Lord and model for all things, prayed in the garden for unity for His followers. Why is unity so important to our Lord? Is the point of unity solely working together so we can accomplish great things? I believe there is much God wants me to learn about others and myself by seeking and maintaining unity. Learning to walk in sobered humility as I value others in the body is of great value. The Holy Spirit is the great unifier and equalizer that binds us all together. Only as we walk in step and fellowship with the Spirit can we walk in unity and fellowship with one another.
As Navigators, we partner with the Lord in making disciples by teaching, praying, and most important, modeling. What are we teaching those we are discipling about the value and worth of the individual, one of our Navigator Values? Where did Jesus’ disciples learn how to love and value people? Jesus was a walking, talking, and breathing example to His followers of life’s most important things, especially love and sacrifice. What am I modeling and passing on to the young disciples I’m leading about unity and valuing others above myself? Hebrews 13:7 reminds me to think about the outcome of my life as others are imitating my faith in regard to loving and honoring people.
We get a beautiful picture of the great multitude from every nation in Revelation 7:9. Am I painting the same glorious picture with my life and my lips to those I’m committed to disciple? The desire for unity our Lord expressed in John 17 is clear. Although we strive to promote unity and equality here on earth, God has already determined it in heaven. His sovereign hand paints the beautiful portrait of Revelation 7:9 for His glory as He brings this world to its appointed end. May each of our lives be an example of the willing and bold stroke of His brush toward this glorious end.
Dr. King concluded his letter by saying that he had hope that “in some not too distant tomorrow the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our great nation with all their scintillating beauty.” May love and brotherhood characterize us as disciplemakers, Christ-followers, and Navigators.