We have a special guest blogger today in honor of Martin Luther King Jr Day. Ramon Mayo is a follower of Jesus who has walked various paths in this life including a season as the pastor of Vineyard Xtreme Church in Lomita, California. Currently he is on a path as an author, speaker and blogger who is releasing an ebook devotional at the end of this month focusing on unique figures in black history and how we can learn about God through their lives. The title of the book is “His Story, Our Story” and can be found on Amazon starting January 31st.
What does Martin Luther King Jr. have to do with the Vineyard? What does a black preacher from the 20th century have to say to a mostly all white movement in the 21st century? Some may think Dr. King was only about racial equality but King was about justice for all and his convictions were rooted deep in theology. Contrary to popular belief in King as a racial tolerance mascot, King was a rebel after the pattern of Jesus of Nazareth who challenged the injustice of the day with countercultural principles. Yes there is a whole other side to King. There is the MLK jr who stood as a prophetic witness to the powers that Martin Luther King Jr. was not just for blacks or racial equality. His life and message are a model to follow and a mirror to hold up in the area of justice and reconciliation.
King and his message of reconciliation fit right into the Vineyard value of reconciling community. His message of reconciliation was shaped by Christ and the gospel. So much of what passes for good race relations is just marshmallow tolerance with no substance behind it. King’s dream and Jesus’ kingdom included all God’s children because we are all made in the image of God
King and his message fit right into the Vineyard value of compassionate ministry. King was not just about securing justice for his own people. King believed in the Beloved Community where the “least of these” were shown compassion. It wasn’t a matter of political power or fame but a hunger and desire to advocate for the poor and needy starting with his own people but extending out into all the world.
King took his marching orders from Jesus. Wimber’s famous saying “we have no ministry but the ministry of Jesus” could have described King’s prophetic witness and work to secure justice for the abandoned and the hurting. It was the prophetic call to the last and the least that rang in King’s ears when he marched on Washington. It was that same call that caused him to cry out against the war in Vietnam. This same cry called him to Memphis to organize the sanitation worker’s strike where he was eventually gunned down. He followed Jesus all the way to his death.
John Wimber said that “the meat was in the street” meaning that our maturity was based on not just knowing the bible intellectually but putting it into action. King also believed “the meat was in the street.” He didn’t just talk love your enemies. He lived it. King was not just a grandstanding talking head. He actually participated with the people during boycotts, marches, and protests. The proof of his direct involvement in putting his words into action is the fact that he was jailed and eventually he was killed for working to organize people for justice.
What will we do in the Vineyard to keep Kings dream alive? You may say that King’s dream was fulfilled. There is no more segregation. People have equal rights. If you believe King’s dream was fulfilled then you really never understood his dream and you probably don’t really understand the Kingdom of God. It’s not just about our legal rights under the law. It’s about grace and justice and the hope of Israel. It’s about Jesus and his vision for a new humanity. And that is a vision that the Vineyard can get behind.