More than 51 years later, it is still chilling to hear the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., conclude his iconic “Mountaintop” speech with the following words:
Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land!
In concluding this speech, Dr. King asserted that he did not fear death, because he knew God would bring about the racial equality and justice for which he advocated. He compared his plight to that of Moses, who did not get to enter Canaan with the Israelites, but was allowed to go to the mountaintop, and look over into the promised land. Moses died on that mountain.
Did Dr. King know he was in his final hours? Less than 20 hours after giving that speech, his life would be claimed by the assassin’s bullet. Yet, Dr. King was not deterred by the threat of death. His commitment: “I just want to do God’s will.”
What makes the Mountaintop Speech so chilling is that you get the idea that Dr. King had been given a full view of God’s will, the future of humanity, and the glories of His kingdom. Having been to the “mountaintop,” Dr. King’s commitment to doing God’s will has elevated, and he no longer (if ever) feared what would happen in his life, or to his life.
A similar occurrence happened in the Bible. The Apostle Paul said in Acts 20:22-24:
And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there:Save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me. But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.
Notice the similarities.
Dr. King said, “Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn’t matter with me now, because I’ve been to the mountaintop.”
The Apostle Paul said, “I go bound in the Spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing what things shall befall me there.”
Dr. King said, “Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will.”
Paul said, “But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.”
Both men were keenly aware of where they stood in life. Both men were committed to their causes to the point of death. Both men were driven to advance their message.
Both men were driven by their faith, which was so strong that it had become real to them. We don’t know if Dr. King literally had a mountaintop experience like Moses, but we know that his faith was so strong that it in itself became the mountaintop. Likewise, Paul was so driven by his faith that God’s Kingdom was tangible to him as well.
Such is the nature of faith. The stronger it gets, the more tangible the things of God become. Which is why Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Faith makes God tangible!
Maybe that’s why we don’t see God move this powerfully in our own lives. Maybe our faith is not strong enough. Maybe we don’t really believe in anything.
Seriously, what do we stand for? What drives us? What gets us out of bed in the morning? What motivates us to speak, or post on social media? What did your preacher preach about last Sunday? And what did yall study in Sunday School?
We, as Christians, need to figure out our “why.” Why go to church? Why give an offering? Why pray? Why read scripture? Why work? What is our motivation?
We cannot invent our “why.” Our “why” is inherent in who we are. So, to find our “why,” we have to find ourselves. While finding yourself sounds like a man buying a motorcycle for a cross-country road trip in the middle of a mid-life crisis, it’s not. It’s simply going back to your roots, and who you are.
And, if you are a Christian, here’s who you are. Here’s who we are.
We are sinners, who, like the rest of the world, were condemned by God for our sin. We’ve all broken God’s law. None of us are righteous. No, not one. All have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).
But God loved us so much, that He sent His only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ, born of a virgin, to Earth to live our experience, then give Himself on the cross for our sins. (John 3:16, Romans 5:8).
While on that cross, Jesus took the wrath of God for the sins of the world, more specifically, He suffered God’s wrath for every individual’s sin. Our sin was paid for on that cross (1 John 2:1-2).
Realizing our sin, and our sinful condition, we surrender to the Lord, and trust Him to save us by virtue of His payment on the cross. In doing so, we confess our sin, and confess our inability to save ourselves. (John 3:16, Romans 5:1, Romans 4).
We symbolize our faith and salvation through baptism (Romans 6:1-10).
With this renewed understanding of life, and with the Spirit dwelling within us, we become new people (Romans 8, 2 Corinthians 5:17).
The question is, “Do you believe that?” and if so, do you believe it strongly enough for it to motivate you? Is God’s salvation in your life your “why?” And if not, why not?