Guest / Limited Access /
Page 2 of 2

The best preachers are not only able to diagnose our moral ills but to prescribe a compelling remedy for our healing. Part of the genius of Martin Luther King Jr. was his ability to interpret America's racial crisis and provide a nation with vivid illustrations of what racial injustice and man's inhumanity to man looked like. But he didn't stop there. He also worked to supply a hopeful picture of where we could go, a sort of travel brochure for what he called "the beloved community"—an integrated America that values justice, peace, and reconciliation.

"I Have a Dream" demonstrated not only King's remarkable way with words (he was, after all, a Baptist preacher) but also a grand imagination empowered by the Christian gospel that could see things others were yet to grasp. King helped America see people of color, working-class individuals, and those in stuck in poverty as flesh-and-blood human beings.

Today, as in King's era, we are experts at depersonalizing our ideological opponents, viewing them more as oppositional labels than neighbors whom we are commanded to love. In our contemporary clash of values, perhaps the thing we are missing most is the capacity as Christians to dream large and imagine a culture informed by kingdom values of grace, reconciliation, and justice. Such a culture will likely require more listening than arguing, more giving than posturing.

In 1963, King saw something big that we've only begun to envision. Fifty years later, the dreamer and his Dream are as relevant as ever.

Edward Gilbreath is the author of Reconciliation Blues: A Black Evangelical's Inside View of White Christianity. His eBook on Martin Luther King Jr.'s "Letter from Birmingham Jail" will be available next month from InterVarsity Press. He's onTwitter @EdGilbreath.

Support our work. Subscribe to CT and get one year free.
Read These NextSee Our Latest
Current IssueMeet the Churches Engaging—and  Keeping—Young People
Subscriber Access Only
Meet the Churches Engaging—and Keeping—Young People
A study of 250 congregations suggests that engaging youth and young adults has little to do with style and everything to do with substance.
RecommendedFor Black Women, Looking Tough Takes a Toll
For Black Women, Looking Tough Takes a Toll
Emotional strength can only hide heartbreak for so long, says pyschologist and theologian Chanequa Walker-Barnes
TrendingBen-Hur
Ben-Hur
A new twist on the tale of the Christ.
Editor's PickA Lament for Louisiana After the Floods
Subscriber Access Only A Lament for Louisiana After the Floods
As I grieve the tragedy in my home state, I’ve found solace in a surprising place.
View this article in Reader Mode
Christianity Today
Why I Changed My Mind About Martin Luther King's 'I Have a Dream' ...