Monday, January 16, 2012


On this  Martin Luther King, Jr. Day 2012 I read once again his speech “I Have a Dream.”  It will forever be etched in the hearts and minds of people around the world.   Dr. King’s talk included all areas of social justice, not only racial equality.  On that immortal day at the Lincoln Memorial on August 28, 1963 King called for a day when “all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics will be able of join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro Spiritual ‘Free at last, free at last, thank God Almighty, we are free at last.’” This is what Jesus was trying to teach us as well.

The Sunday after Dr. King was assassinated he was to deliver a sermon entitled “Why America May Go to Hell.”   The main point of his sermon was “if America does not use her vast resources of wealth to end poverty, to make it possible for all of God’s children to have the basic necessities of life, she too will go to hell.”    He was working on this sermon just before he was killed.
Dr. King calls us still today to work for racial, cultural, inter-religious, gender and economic equality for all people.  It is so simple, but we make it so hard.  We humans can’t seem to live it because there is this tendency in our hearts toward bigotry, selfishness, and ethnocentricity.  It is easier to hate than to love. 
One of my all-time favorite pop songs is “Hands” by Jewel.   The first line of this song goes like this:  “If I could tell the world just one thing it would be, we’re all OK.”  That would be my dream on this cold winter day.  I dream that everyone would accept everyone who is different and tell them they are “OK.”   I pray we can find ways to build bridges of understanding, forgiveness and collaboration.  Then we will be free at last.  


  1. Bishop Johnson, As a former UMC Pastor, now Baha'i I can't agree with you more. One of the beliefs basic to the Baha'i Faith is that of the Oneness of Humanity. Baha'u'llah's writings tell us,

Know ye not why We created you all from the same dust? That no one should exalt himself over the other. Ponder at all times in your hearts how ye were created. Since We have created you all from one same substance it is incumbent on you to be even as one soul, to walk with the same feet, eat with the same mouth and dwell in the same land, that from your inmost being, by your deeds and actions, the signs of oneness and the essence of detachment may be made manifest. Such is My counsel to you, O concourse of light! Heed ye this counsel that ye may obtain the fruit of holiness from the tree of wondrous glory.
" Unity of mankind is absolutely necessary to and for the survival of our planet. Thank you for your thoughts. Peace, Jay Banta

  2. AMEN Bishop! I listen to Jewel's song everyday. It helps to put my Mind In Order!

  3. We’re all OK? Read Mark 7:21-22 “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, adultery, avarice, malice, deceit, indecency, envy, slander, pride, folly. “ I could list many other references in Scripture that confirm man’s evil desires.
    America will go to Hell? This country gives a great amount of aid to others in the world. It isn’t the problem of the United States giving; the problem is in the recipients. Most divert the aid to political leaders or unjust causes.
    Equality for all? If this would truly exist, we could not have any liberty, for where there is full equality, liberty ceases. I would rather have liberty, for it gives me the ability to choose, not forcing me to treat the murderer the same as the victim. To suggest that because I drive a 2007 Chevy and my neighbor drives a 2005 Chevy I should give my car to him is the thought of people who desire equality.
    Jesus didn’t die so we may have a bigger house or demand acceptance of our lifestyle. He died so we may have eternal life. However, while we’re visiting this planet, we have choices. Our choices determine our effectiveness. Accepting those who are different from us is noble, but sharing the message of the good news should not take a back seat to the accepting.
    Let us build bridges and let these bridges be built on the foundation of rock, not the shifting sand of relativism.

  4. I respect Dr.King, but his "Why America May Go to Hell" message would not have necessarily been based on biblical teachings. I don't know of any Bible verses that tell us that any one nation is responsible to provide the "basic necessities of life" for everyone on the planet. In fact, Jesus told us in Mark 14:7 "For ye have the poor with you always". Jesus calls us individually, not as nations to give to the poor. In Matthew 19 Jesus instructs the young man to sell everything and give it to the poor. In Luke 19 Jesus seemed to be satisfied with the "half of my goods" Zaccheus promised to give to the poor. In Matthew 23 and Luke 11 Jesus indicates that the tithe is sufficient of our posessions, but the more important payments He wants, made most clear in Matthew, are matters of the heart: justice, mercy, and faith. Additionally, nations don't go to hell, souls (individuals) do. Nations, however, can be destroyed and I guess if God can't find at least ten righteous people in America, we deserve to be destroyed. So, Dr. King's message may have had the ability to change some hearts in America to favor the Lord, but his main point that America will "go to hell" if we don't provide the basic necessities of life for all God's children does not have a biblical foundation. As for becoming "free at last", the freedom Jesus speaks of in John 8:32 comes in two parts: first, in John 8:28, "When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he". Second, from John 8:31, "If ye continue in my word then are ye my disciples indeed, and you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free." Building bridges of "understanding, forgiveness, and collaboration" is not enough to be free at last without first worship and obedience to Him.