What will happen to them?

A Martin Luther King Jr. reflection by Sara Blight

Each Martin Luther King Jr. day, I like to listen to some of his speeches. One of my absolute favorites is his “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech from the Memphis Sanitation Worker strike. I strongly encourage you to listen (below). I’ve been thinking of his words a lot lately. His words and preaching are just as relevant today as they were then. 

The part that always strikes me is his preaching on the story of the Good Samaritan. He tells the story of the traveler that was attacked by thieves and needed help on the road between Jerusalem and Jericho. The Levite and the Priest passed the man by. We do not know their reasons for not stopping, but as MLK says, we know that the question they were asking was “if I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?” However, the Good Samaritan comes across the man and reverses the question and instead asks “if I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?” 

That is a tough call to action, but it is the one that we must answer as Christians. We must be true neighbors and stand with our brothers and sisters in Christ. We must ask the question “if I do not help, what will happen to them?” 

This is a universal call, but it really hits home with me when it comes to racism. All too often, we can rationalize that we are not racist, so we have done our part. However, that to me is walking by the injured man and saying I didn’t hurt him. We are not called to just not do harm, we are called to do good. We are called to help. 

I don’t always know what that help looks like. One small part is challenging my own thoughts and examining my own bias. Another small part is speaking up when I hear hurtful speech, which can be challenging and uncomfortable. To be honest, I think the main part is to listen to one another and walk together. I have been very proud of our church for reaching out to our community through partnership and through our signs to let our neighbors know that we are willing and able to be the good neighbors that God calls us to be. 

In his speech, Martin Luther King Jr. states that he may not get to the Mountaintop with us, but that he has seen it coming. Unfortunately, we still haven’t reached the Mountaintop and some days it feels just as far away as it ever has been, but I do believe that we will get there someday. We will get there together by lifting up every one of our neighbors, because if we do not stop to help them, what will happen to them?