Continuing Martin Luther King Jr.’s Compassion


I always feel a little bit annoyed when there’s a day off of school or work to remember someone or something and no one bothers to do any remembering. It’s not that we did any special remembering on holidays when I was growing up, it’s just that it seems like we should be honoring these people who have made sacrifices for us and a better country.

Today is a chance to remember Martin Luther King, Jr.: a husband, a father, a pastor, an advocate, a courageous light shining into darkness. He was serious about following God, no matter the consequences. I recently read that although he could afford to live a comfortable suburban lifestyle, he chose to move his family with four kids right into the rougher part of town, just to bring the hope and the light and to stand with them as one. What a courageous sacrifice. It’s not one that many christians make today.

excerpt from his sermon, “I’ve Been To the Mountaintop,” April 3, 1968

“…That’s the question before you tonight. Not, ‘If I stop to help the sanitation workers, what will happen to my job?’ ‘Not, if I stop to help the sanitation workers, what will happen to all of the hours that I usually spend in my office everyday and every week as a pastor?’ The question is not, ‘If I stop to help this man in need, what will happen to me?’ The question is, ‘If I do not stop to help the sanitation workers, what will happen to them?’ That’s the question.”

“Let us rise up tonight with a greater readiness. Let us stand with a greater determination. And let us move on in these powerful days, these days of challenge to make America what it ought to be. We have an opportunity to make America a better nation. And I want to thank God once more for allowing me to be here with you.”

It used to be that the world saw the compassion of Jesus through his church. It should be that way again. What are the issues in the lives of struggling people today? Where is God pulling my heart? Will I continue with my comfortable suburban lifestyle, being active in my church but failing to be a compassionate hand of the body of Christ, reaching into the darkness? Or will I have the courage to do as Jesus did: show love and compassion to the hurting? And how does that look for a young mom?

There are little girls in Houston being enslaved into sex trafficking. Will I ignore them because they are illegal immigrants? There are homeless people only minutes from our house. Will I avert my eyes because they are dirty and probably didn’t manage their finances well enough? There are boys being turned into killing machines by crazy tyrants in Africa. Will I turn a blind eye because it’s not happening in my neighborhood? There are poor families asking for handouts at our church. Will I just let someone else take care of them? 

It’s so hard to find a balance between taking care of my God-given responsibilities as a parent and a caretaker of our home and reaching out to the world. Our house is part of our ministry to our local church body, and of course, I need to take care of the blessings God has given me. Our children are entrusted to us by God, and nurturing them is a full time job in itself. But did God only send someone else to worry about the issues above? Or do you think I need to find a way to be the hands of Jesus to the hurting of the world somehow? Can I really be a part of the body of Christ and ignore the suffering of people around me? I think I’ve become good at not noticing the hurting and therefore not feeling guilty about not helping, but Jesus would be different.

If Jesus were here today he would be touching the lives of the needy in our communities…finding a way to make that part of his responsibilities…not getting too busy with something else…making it a priority to save people from desperation. Martin Luther King Jr. did the same…he found a way to touch the lives of the hurting and to actively make a difference. No wonder the world had such a different view of christians back then.

Jesus is here today, through his church. As a part of his church, what am I doing? Why aren’t I doing more to fight the injustices of the world around me, simply because I believe people matter to God? I resolve to move in that direction. We have developed the habit of giving to organizations to bring education, food, the Bible, literacy, and joy to people around the world, but I know there is more that I can do. Today I’m buying spaghetti for our church’s food bank. It’s a small thing, I know, done by a tired mom with a full plate…but it will share love with some family in need. I wish I knew of something bigger that I could do while still maintaining my responsibilities to my family and my home, but small things make a difference, too. Perhaps God is using this busy preschool time to develop the compassion in my heart so that as the kids grow, we can grow in compassion for others as a family. Slowly, with small steps, we will make a difference. That’s my dream.


2 thoughts on “Continuing Martin Luther King Jr.’s Compassion

  1. Since I’ve recently discovered your blog, I was looking through your archives and found this post. What great questions to be asking! We (my husband and I) are part of a network of Christians trying to ask the question together of what it means to be converted to the Way of Christ, which certainly indellibly includes his compassion for the poor and his heart for justice. We call ourselves New Monastics, and are trying to live lives of joy, compassion and justice in community with one another, and in our local communities. You might enjoy checking out the web site or . Peace, and remember Mother Theresa’s words: “We do no great works, only small works with great love.”

  2. That’s weird. The way I wrote out the web sites made them disappear. Let’s try this again: You may enjoy “” or “”

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