Dr. King is often reduced to quotable tweets and his quintessential speech, “I Have a Dream.” However, at great peril, I suggest on the 60th anniversary of this speech, we don’t need his Dream. We need to wrestle with the looming Nightmare that King foresaw.
Five years removed from the March on Washington, three years after the ratification of Civil Rights, two years beyond the Voting Rights Act, and eight months before he would be assassinated…King uttered these prophetic words that would serve us well on this sacred occasion:
“I must confess that the dream I had that day has, on many points, turned into a nightmare. Now, I’m not one to lose hope. I keep on hoping. I still have faith in the future. But I’ve had to analyze many things over the last few years, and I would say over the last few months.
I’ve gone through a lot of soul-searching and agonizing moments. And I’ve come to see that we have many more difficulties ahead, and some of the old optimism was a little superficial, and now it must be tempered with a solid realism. And I think the realistic fact is that we still have a long, long way to go…” – MLK
On the eve of the 60th anniversary of King’s most iconic speech, three precious image-bearers were murdered in the name of White Supremacy in a state that has led the charge on revising the Black experience in America. Their names are Angela Carr, 52, Anolt Laguerre, Jr., 19, and Jerrald De’Shaun Gallion, 29.
Racially motivated terrorist attacks should be no surprise when, in 2020, the Department of Homeland Security named White Supremacist Extremism the #1 domestic terrorism threat in the US. This threat of violence isn’t relegated to racial motivation alone. Gun violence is at an all-time high, with 436 mass shootings in 2023 alone.
What should be a surprise is that we as a nation have done very little to mitigate such heinous occasions. All the while, the Church remains silent despite claiming that all of life is sacred.
In the words of King: Where do we go from here? Where do we go when our nation’s apparent love for guns has overtaken our love for the sanctity of life? Where do we go since the surge of racially motivated crimes makes clear King’s dream has miscarried into a nightmare? Where do we go when a racially motivated terrorist attack occurs in a state that has taken a revisionist approach to American history, ensuring the erasure of atrocities Blacks have suffered at the hands of White Supremacy?
Church, we must emerge as a sort of prophetic Wentworth Cheswell, calling the Church back to a whole and complete gospel. We must declare that ALL people are made in God’s image across color, class, culture, sex, and abilities. ALL PEOPLE.
In my opinion, Dr. King’s dream is less of a blueprint and more of a divine portrait. King masterfully illustrates the desired destination at which America must arrive if we are to live up to our fullest potential, and we, the Church, must strategize and move to realize this Dream.
So I invite you to dream like King, to imagine, illustrate, and implement God’s desire.
Dream with me of that heavenly people who haven’t stopped with their eternal security with God in Heaven but are seeking to bring a bit of Heaven down to earth.
Dream with me of a people who would abandon the notions of liberty and the right to bear arms but enact policies that protect the liberty of Black lives and one’s right to flourishing.
Dream with me today of a Church that would seek to raise the conversation on reconciliation, mercy, and justice back to the common language of love.
Dream with me of a day in which the Church rises to repudiate the treatment of asylum seekers, insisting the disparate sojourner is worthy of love and dignity.
Dream with me today of the flourishing of all people.
Church, we must abandon trendy activism and the idea that“thoughts and prayers” alone will solve this problem. I invite each of you to be lovers. I invite each of you into the messy fray. I invite you to be an advocate of human flourishing despite what your political and social tribe might suggest. I invite you to the dis-ease to address the disease that we as a nation and Church are facing. I invite you to be constrained by Christ.
I remember the discomfort of our Savior, who, though he was God, didn’t cling to his divine privilege. He came down to earth through the condescension and dwelled among us. He lived a faithful life. And through His crucifixion and resurrection, he successfully defeated sin, annihilated death, destroyed hell, and undermined the grave.
So let us join the Savior by waging war on notions of White Supremacy and unfettered access to the weapons of war and be constrained by Christ. May we be those ambassadors of truth, love, and justice
My prayer is that the Church realizes that the wall of hostility has been torn down by the defining act of redemption on Calvary, and we, Christ ambassadors, are charged to believe, live, and advocate for that truth.
Let us lock arms to liberate the Church to love and liberate America to true freedom: all who bear the divine image deserve to live. Christ alone, mobilized through the Church, is the hope of the World. We must act now.
“Let us realize that the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice. Let us realize that William Cullen Bryant is right: “Truth, crushed to earth, will rise again.” Let us go out realizing that the Bible is right: “Be not deceived. God is not mocked. (Oh yeah) Whatsoever a man soweth (Yes), that (Yes) shall he also reap.” This is our hope for the future, and with this faith, we will be able to sing in some not-too-distant tomorrow, with a cosmic past tense, “We have overcome! Deep in my heart, I did believe (Yes) we would overcome.”- MLK, Where do we go from here? (Speech)