Years ago I had the privilege of being invited to the King Center (in Atlanta) to remember and celebrate the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. I was there as a guest of the King family (thanks to my friend Milan Ford) and got to sit with Sister Bernice King and many other friends and family members.
We worshiped together and listened to the stories of those who knew the man before he was a legend. I was thrilled to be led by one of my personal pastors, Dr. Cornel West, as he spoke of the King we don’t often speak about.
Dr. West spoke of how our nationally canonized respect for MLK’s dream has kept us from seeing that at the time of his death, King had the LOWEST PUBLIC APPROVAL RATING of any point in his life. Abysmally low. While the movement seemed to be gaining momentum, King was losing supporters. His undaunted demand to dismantle our history of systemic racism, his stance against the Vietnam War, his subtle (and not so subtle) distancing of himself from more radical figures like Malcolm X and Huey Newton, and his relentlessness persistence for nothing less than equality for all left him rejected not only by those that opposed him (largely White), but by those who first rallied around him (mostly Black).
At the time of his murder, King was on a downward spiral of rejection and abandonment within the country he fought so hard to unite.
This is what we don’t talk about…but what we must celebrate all the more.
King could have sought and settled for acceptance. He could have said what people wanted to hear. He could have taken a nice job on a Sunday Morning Talk Show and enjoyed a lifetime of the unripened fruit of legacy.
But…he did not.
He was relentless even in the face of rejection.
He marched on even while others walked away.
Which leads me to wonder…
Am I willing to Speak Up and Speak Out, even if it means that I might be Kicked Out?
What am I willing to Stand For rather than just Stand By?
Am I willing to Walk On into my convictions….no matter what the cost…or will I just Walk By?
Will my Resolve weather my Rejection?
Though it never feels like it in the moment, Rejection can be a gift. It sifts through and sorts out what you really believe. It forces you to face what we often fear most – being on the outside. Rejection can be a gift because it connects you that much more with a Savior who, during his time on Earth, was more rejected than accepted. Whether we like it or not…whether we’re ready for it or not…Rejection is the fire that forges your conviction.
My prayer for you with whatever rejection you may be facing or fearing is that you would welcome it for the gift that it is. And that you would remember that even if and even as others reject you…there is a God who will never leave you, forget you, abandon or reject you.
Rejection is the fire that forges your conviction.
So what about you?
Are any of your convictions currently facing Rejection?
What is your response to Rejection?
What might God want to grow in you in the face of Rejection?
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