January 21. Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

2 Corinthians 5:16-17. From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

We are deviating from Romans today for a special MLK Day post. I hope that you will spend at least a couple of your thoughts today on Martin Luther King.

Maybe today can be a day where we begin to judge people not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

Or maybe we can even take it one step further. We can judge people by the content of their spirit. Are they in Christ? Do they have the Spirit living within? Can we see them that way? Can we give grace and patience? Can we now no longer regard them according to the flesh (2 Corinthians 5:16)? Can we call them the new creation?

King’s famous line from his I Have a Dream speech may not have been founded in a theology of union with Christ, but it does remind us of one of the most important implications of this theology. We are who God says we are. Our identity is in him. I am not reduced to the color of my skin, or my sexual desires, or the amount of my income, or any other “earthly” identifier. Sure, best case scenario, these can offer us a feeling of belonging. A place to find commonality. A place to feel safe. But they are no match for the security, identity, and community that is found in Christ Jesus. Worst case scenario, these identifiers can build walls between us. They can produce forms of entitlement. They can work against love of neighbor.

But King fought for the equality of African Americans not for the sake of identity politics, but for the sake of understanding. Understanding what humanity is. And when there is this understanding, love and justice follow.

Maybe King knew something that we all should know. Maybe he knew that the content of our character will only change as the result of our union with Christ. Or maybe he was just a liberal theologian who didn’t take into account the efficacious work of the indwelling Christ. Who knows. But at the end of the day he died for something that we should all believe in – the freedom of simply being human. That is what “to live is Christ” is all about. Christ offers us true humanity. Humanity free from fear and bias. Free from hate and retribution. Free from self-righteousness and condemnation.

King wanted us to understand true humanity. That there is value in everyone. That the imago dei is to be honored in every race and in both genders. He believed that this understanding would lead us to love and justice. And it will…In Christ.

So spend a couple thoughts today thinking about what MLK stood for. Read some of his quotes. Let his words encourage you as you are able to see them fulfilled in “to live is Christ.”

Can you hear grace in this speech? Can you connect it to your union with Christ?

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