It was interesting to hear Pastor David Myles in the pulpit of Goodwill Church in Montgomery, NY this last weekend say that when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. died, by an assassins bullet on April 4, 1968, at the age of 39, he had a total of only about $6,000.00 to his name.
He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. He was a world-renowned, celebrity-status leader whose positive impact on American and human history may not be fully known for decades to come. Most of us who own (or co-own with a bank) a car or a home have much more to our name. In no way, however, do we feel wealthy. Many of us describe ourselves as poor. He had little to nothing of this world, for whatever reason, yet “poor” is not a word we use for him. We’ve set aside a Monday each January in America to close schools and other federal facilities to remember the richness of his life and legacy, to appreciate what he taught and overcame.
The whole idea of rich and poor is called into question by this. Maybe they are the opposite of what we typically think. What we think makes us rich in this world might be what makes so many of us feel so poor. It’s peculiar; most of us want wealth in order to be free of worldly concerns, yet it chains us to them.
Apparently, the freedom Dr. King preached about is not a freedom that money alone can buy.
Many of us are into or past reading about Joseph in our reading through the Bible in a year. Joseph was a man who knew both the bottom rung of poverty and the top rung of wealth, power, and influence. Yet, as we study his life, we see this same thing. To recall a line out of Dr. King’s famous “I have a dream” speech, the quality of people’s lives comes from “the content of their character.”