“Have we not all one Father? Has not one God created us? Why then are we faithless to one another, profaning the covenant of our fathers?” (Malachi 2:10 ESV)
On Jan. 9, I was asked to bring greetings at a gospel Shabbat service, at Temple Beth Torah, a Jewish congregation. This was a Martin Luther King celebration and God gave me words on diversity.
We live in a diverse world — one I believe God created. Therefore, we all have the same father. Most people believe there is a God, and only one God. Regardless of what we call Him; Yahweh, Allah, Jehovah, Brahman, or God; He is still the same God, the one who made us. God meant for there to be diversity, and He ministers to us in a diverse ways.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.” I agree. Dr. King believed as Bishop T. D. Jakes and I believe integration was the key. If this is so, then why has integration failed? First, too many of us think in order to be accepted we must change who we are. Second, too many don’t practice integration, they practice tolerance.
Bishop Jakes says, “Tolerance is overrated — tolerating differences is politically correct, but tolerance requires patience and patience runs out. In order for people to feel fulfilled in life, they must be much more than tolerated, they must feel accepted for who they are and their needs and desires must be met, before there can be any successful integration or union”.
In the above scripture the Prophet Malachi (2:10-16) addresses two issues that provoke God: our giving and our divorcing. God’s children were cheating Him in their giving, and in their marriage to idol worshippers, as well as too easily divorcing the wives of their own nation.
To address this Malachi (2:10) raises three profound questions. “Have we not all one father? Has not one God created us? Why then are we faithless to one another, profaning the covenant of our fathers”?
Malachi is saying when we deal treacherously with God in covenant issues and relationships — like marriage and tithing — we defraud Him. To God, this is morally harmful. Then the cords that bind us to Him and to one another are broken, and this opens the door to all manner of injustice and dishonesty.
Corrupt practices are the genuine fruit and by-product of corrupt principles. The badness of men’s hearts and lives lead to loose and dangerous notions about society. Then we see the fabric of a morally just and sound community unraveling.
Dr. King also said, “There comes a time when one must take the position that is neither safe nor politic nor popular, but he must do it because conscience tells him it is right.”
To have successful integration there must be diversity in society. Diversity allows people to be who they are. Then we better meet their needs and desires and allow for a more successful integration of our communities.
Dr. King was such a loving and powerful force in society, his good self-concept was the key to his thinking on integration and diversity, and that’s why in the ’50’s he could lead such a diverse movement.
In a sermon preached in Chicago in 1967, King illuminates this as he said, “Before I was a civil rights leader, I was a preacher of the gospel. This was my first calling and it still remains my greatest commitment. You know, actually all that I do in civil rights I do because I consider it a part of my ministry. I have no other ambitions in life but to achieve excellence in the Christian ministry. I don’t plan to run for any political office. I don’t plan to do anything but remain a preacher. And what I’m doing in this struggle, along with many others, grows out of my feeling that the preacher must be concerned about the whole man.”
As I closed my message at the Temple Beth Torah, led by the Holy Spirit I used words from a hymn, and then invited the congregation to sing with me, When the Saints Go Marching In:
“We are traveling in the footsteps
Of those who’ve gone before
But we’ll all be reunited
On a new and sunlit shore
O when the saints go marching in
O Lord, I want to be in that number”!
As we sung and I took my seat, all were singing together these words, and the Holy Spirit took over the place, it felt for a few moments we were in the New Jerusalem at the Pentecost.
The Rev. Dr. R. Joaquin Willis is pastor of the Church of the Open Door UCC in Miami’s Liberty City community. He may be reached at 305-759-0373 or firstname.lastname@example.org