Just 10 days before his assassination, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke at the Rabbinical Assembly in New York. In his address, Dr. King called on “people of good will” to take a stand “for that which is just, that which is righteous.”
Quoting from Amos 5:24, Dr. King implored his audience and the entire nation to, “Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.”
The Prophet Amos strikes at the heart of Dr. King’s life-long goal and his constant message. It was always about justice. Justice and righteousness. He wanted equal opportunity for all people. He wanted fair scales.
Those values, rooted in Scripture, echo through the years and we hear them today in our generation. They remind us of the importance our values have in our lives and the work of striving for God’s ideals.
Why are the values we live by so important?
Without clearly defined values we wander in darkness. Our values, like Dr. King’s, shine light on our path and direct us. They motivate us. I was reflecting this weekend on our Buckner values and wondering what Dr. King might say.
A few years ago, we identified our core values at Buckner: those principles which guide our ministry and help us fulfill our mission of, “following the example of Jesus by serving vulnerable children, families and seniors.” Together, they spell FIRST and illustrate the place these values have in our work:
- Faith: Alignment with the teachings and work of Jesus Christ
- Integrity: Ethical practice, honesty, truth and transparency.
- Respect: Respect for the individual
- Service: Highest quality of service and excellence.
- Teamwork: Collaboration and creativity through teams.
Today, on this MLK Day 2024, as I think about the life and work of Dr. King and the values, principles and calling for which he lived and died, I am reminded that the cause he championed and the way he went about accomplishing that cause reflected his values. It’s one thing to say what you value. But the true test of our values is whether we live by them.
Amos, known for preaching the righteousness of God, told the people, “Seek good and not evil, that you may live.” And he went even further, saying we should “hate evil, love good and establish justice in the gate.”
Those are action-oriented values. It wasn’t enough for people to just believe in those things. They had to seek good and establish justice.
Dr. King’s life is a testimony to what happens when a person acts on his or her values. My prayer today is that we follow his example and act on what we believe. Dr. King also advised on how to start.
“If you can’t fly, then run. If you can’t run, then walk. If you can’t walk, then crawl, but whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward.”