Sometimes we feel we do not. We find ourselves swept up the torrent of cable news, social media postings, loyalty to people with whom we identify, and suspicions of those with whom we do not identify. We find ourselves carried down the river of division, mistrust, animosity, and fear. We feel as if we are victims of irreversible current.
When Paul writes “Have this mind in you that was in Christ Jesus [Philippians 2:5],” he is saying we have a choice. Wherever we find ourselves, we can choose to migrate to a different place. We can choose the “mind” we live out.
In another place Paul writes: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect [Romans 12:2].” Paul is asserting that we can push back against the “Spirit of the Age.” We can be different; we can be set free.
The beauty of the Gospel is that we none of us are who God created us to be--none of us. We all carry implicit biases for and against certain people. We did not choose these mindsets. Then on the heels of that uncomfortable truth of own flawed nature, the Gospel asserts that we do not have to remain this way. We can, through the power of the Spirit and an honest look at ourselves, change; we can be made new. This is a message of hope, water for thirsty souls.
This weekend we remember the work of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Perhaps no one has with such eloquence and power and candor laid bare the sin of systemic racism in America.
Yet, there was always hope in Dr. King's message. In the midst of his laying bare our nation’s sin, he uplifted those who heard his words--not just black and brown folks, but also white folks. Why? Because King believed we could all do better; he knew we could change if we applied ourselves to the hard work of regeneration in our hearts and in our society. He never wavered in his faith about what God could do in us:
I look to the day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character-Dr. King, August 28, 1963, at the Lincoln Memorial
Dr. King could see it; he took it for granted. He knew we, all of us, have it in us to do better.
In times like these, when hope seems sometimes hard to find, we realize what a treasure Dr. King was and still is to our nation.
Executive Minister-American Baptist Churches of New York State