31 Jan 2007

Sharing the Dream

Author: Bobby Valentine | Filed under: Black History, Contemporary Ethics, Kingdom, Martin Luther King, Race Relations
It has been over thirty-five years since Martin Luther King, Jr. was cut down by an assassins bullet. Many things have changed for the better since that day. Most schools are integrated; restaurants no longer send African-Americans to the back door and only a few churches would dream of defending racism on the basis of the “curse of Noah’s son, Ham” or post deacons to “keep those people” out.

Looking back we can only be embarrassed and ask for forgiveness for such open evil. Even worse, the church should hang its head in shame that it took a secular government rather than a Spirit-empowered church to lead the way for the changes we see today.

But as we enter Black History Month, I wonder if we have changed enough since Dr. King’s dream speech in 1963? The answer is not at all clear. It is true we don’t have lynchings or overt segregation, but some believe that racism is deeper and more entrenched than before. Laws have forced open doors but they haven’t changed hearts.

Hearts are changed most effectively and permanently only by the power of God. The ability to respect and love – not just “tolerate” – people who are somehow different than ourselves comes only from one empowered with God’s Spirit. Dr. King understood this and wrote:

Evil can be cast out, not by man alone nor by a dictatorial God that invades our lives, but when we open the door and invite God through Christ to enter. ‘Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any man hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him and he with me.’ God is too courteous to break open the door, but when we open it in believing faith, a divine and human confrontation will transform our sin-ruined lives into radiant personalities.”

Dr. King was murdered for the sake of a dream that people would someday be known for their character rather than the color of their skin, for their goodwill rather than their race. Every real Christian has a large stake in this dream for it did not originate with Martin. Rather, it is from God himself who said all people are created equal and in his image, that there is no such thing as race in Christ.

Pursue the dream. Intentionally build a relationship with someone unlike yourself. Love them in deed and not just words. Invite them into your home for supper. Play a game together. Become friends. For people who love God the dream of fostering love for our neighbor is not an option – it is a matter of obedience.

Bobby Valentine

12 Responses to “Sharing the Dream”

  1. Tim Archer Says:

    “Changed enough” is always hard to measure, but change has definitely ocurred. Younger generations can’t begin to fathom the sort of racism that once existed.

    That being said, the fact that any prejudice at all exists urges us to continue changing.

    Grace and peace,

  2. Steve Puckett Says:

    I’m hoping that our churches become more a reflection of our communities. I do like what I see when I look out over our own church family in Florida, to see people from alll walks, serving the risen Lord together, but we still have a lot of work to do.


  3. Messianic Gentile Says:

    My buddy, David, and I were just discussing yesterday how that Vandelia had two long standing black members three years ago when I started there. Last Sunday we had over 20. Vandelia is taking on a lot of mix with three main races, and two denominations. I am thrilled to report that here.

    It seems to me that your imperative to befriend someone unlike myself goes equally for churches and individuals. It is a good call.

    Many blessings…

  4. Stoogelover Says:

    Being an Alabama boy, moving to Southern California had it’s trials on many levels. But one of the greatest joys of that move has been the relationship and fellowship in a very multi-cultural / multi-ethnic church. We’ve come a long way and have far to go, but I think we’re going in the right direction.

  5. Alan Says:

    Our congregation is roughly 50% black, 50% other (white, asian, hispanic). We have several interracial marriages. We have two white elders, a black minister (native of Nigeria), a white teen minister, and lots of deacons, about evenly divided among races. That’s in a county that is about 70% white, 20% black, and 10% other.

    I’ve read that the fastest growing ethnic group in our county is Korean. One of my daughters married a Korean guy she met in the campus ministry.

    The family living next door to me is mixed race (husband white, wife black).

    Imagine all of that 30 years ago.

  6. laymond Says:

    Bobby NO NO NO!! we have not changed the way God and Dr. King would have us be. I would like to ask just how much time do you and those who comment spend in prayer to God to change your Heart to open wide, so wide when we look out across the congregation we see only Christians or those who are exploring the possibility. Not the case those Christians arrive in.It is no more Godly to notice one’s skin color than it is to notice one’s attire. I believe Jesus said attire did not matter to him. I know we see what we see but when we bring special notice to it that is just wrong. There are very few black people in our congregation, I am not proud we have a few black Christians , I am thankful we have a few more Christians.
    Alan–does that Korean guy have a name?

  7. laymond Says:

    Bobby- I am glad no one, let me repeat no one has ever come up to me and said I am glad you are here because if you wern’t here we would have no ugly Christians, they might be right but that would be wrong. By the way our congregation is made up of 95% Christian and 5% visitor.
    (just a guess)

  8. Josh Says:


    If my memory serves me right, you’re a comic book buff. Check out my “Super Hero Faith” post. I found this extraordinary post that connects comic book superheroes/supervillians and their religious faiths. Pretty neat, I think.

    Take care.

  9. Ben Overby Says:


    I just came from a preacher’s meeting–half white/half black, and happy to be one in Christ. We’re planning events together, studying together, etc. And our congregation really looks like our community racially, and God helps us, in time economically.

    Laymond, there’s nothing wrong with noticing differences. Part of the glory of the gospel is that we are made one in spite of our differences. Paul, as a Christian, saw the difference between males and females, Jews and Gentiles, etc. God made us with various colors. To prentend I don’t see the blackness of my brother is to insult his dignity! To use that difference as a reason for enmity is an insult to the cross.


  10. Alan Says:

    Hi Laymond

    His name is Sherwin. (Americanized from the Korean name which I can’t spell).

  11. Anonymous Says:


    I spent a post last year on my blog discussing my doing of good deeds and then blabbing about them “to be seen by [others].” So in the spirit of doing my good deeds in secret, I will remain anonymous for this comment.

    But I want to say that earlier this week (and not out of a sense of celebrating black history or any of that, just being a friend) I found myself in a hospital room with a couple I care for from time to time. They are old enough to be my parents and both are disabled. The gentleman was considering suicide and was admitted to the ICU.

    I was summoned by the wife, who told the staff that I was their pastor. Actually she is a Baptist, I am CoC, but later she told me that her own pastor (a black pastor from a predominately black church) would not have come. They are poor and needy people, but I love them. The man is a crusty sort, but this makes the second time I have been to the hospital to visit him (once early last year too).

    We prayed and laughed and talked for hours there. We decided that we have a special community bond between the three of us and God. And since we had come together in His name, He was with us filling our hearts with love and strength.

    Since these folks are black and I am white. And since our little hodge podge was a witness to the hospital staff (we made a very unusual flock), it seemed relevant to come back here and tell you this little story.

    Thanks for posting on this.

  12. Stoned-Campbell Disciple Says:

    And thank you for sharing.

    Bobby Valentine

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