Summary: The danger of doing business as usual is that you will miss your mission, that you will miss your miracle, and you will miss the Master.

Community or Chaos: The Danger of Doing Business as Usual John 21: 1-12

John 21:3 “I go a fishing.”

The life and times of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. reflects the Black Church and Black people at their best. We are all proud of his academic and social accomplishments. Unfortunately, generations born after 1968, only know of him through stories told be others, through books, through electronic media. Sometimes, it seems that Dr. King’s life work makes him appear larger than life. Particularly when contrasted with the leadership styles we see on the national and local stage today.

We are in an era of people first asking what’s in it for me, versus asking what’s in it for my people. In these days and times, people does not understanding the meaning of commitment to the liberation struggle? People vacillate from developing a deep sense of true meaning. King would suggest, “If you don’t have anything to die for, you will fall for anything.”

Dr. King was a real person. He was authentic in every way. Human fears, frailties, and faults, but God used him in a mighty way to remind all of us – what a mighty God we

serve. His life and times was tied to the church. While he may have received a (B-) in his homiletics’ class, he is credited as being one of the greatest preachers of all time. His sermon, “I Have a Dream” is one of the most repeated oratorical presentations of all time.

Dr. King was a real person. He frequented Baltimore. I’m told he shared in discussions in our own Harvey Johnson Center. That’s no surprise to me because he and Gus Adair where childhood friends. Gus would call him Mike King. Dr. King and Rev. Dr. Logan Kease where good friends. Dr. Kease and Rev. Dr. Baxter Matthews were also good friends. The network of Civil Rights was connected to the Black Church.

Any true student of Civil Rights knows the movement flows through Baltimore, this community, and this church. Dr. King knew that and all across the country religious leaders understood that the prototype for the civil rights movement had been developed here in Baltimore.

June 22, 1885 – The pastors of Union Baptist Church, Rev. Dr. Harvey Johnson, Sharon Baptist Church, Rev. Dr. William Alexander, Trinity Baptist Church, Rev. Waller and others form the Mutual United Brotherhood of Liberty of the United States of America.

This puts structure in the Civil Rights Movement. Frederick Douglas, growing up in East Baltimore, and later attending Sharp Street Methodist Church knew that. Baltimore’s contribution to the Civil Rights Movement is largely unknown because we have not told Union’s story.

Nevertheless, I recognize that God used Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life to keep us from every forgetting the move of God’s hand in America.


In 1967 as Black Power forces began to impact the non-violence perspective of the Civil Rights Movement, Dr. King wrote a powerful analysis of the conditions of that day in his book: Where Do We Go From Here: Community or Chaos?

This book should be mandatory reading for every African American man, woman and child. Dr. King analyzes Black Power:

1) Cry of disappointment

2) Call to black people to amass the political and economic strength to achieve their legitimate goals.

3) Call to pool black financial resources to achieve economic security.

4) Psychological call to manhood.

Dr. King focused us on the “basic and primary tasks of liberation:

1) To organize our strength into compelling power so that government cannot elude our demands.

2) To subordinate programs to studying the levers of power.

3) He describes the forces of power as ideological, economic and political.

Dr. King challenged us to realize that liberation as an ideological soul force was rooted in Biblical and religious thinking and was crystallized if properly understood in the life of Jesus Christ. Promoting the theology of love gave us the ideological edge in the world of ideas.

Dr. King wanted us to know that not owning land was tantamount to misunderstanding the quest of the Hebrew people to possess Canaan land. Some of our time has to be placed on gaining economic equity. If we are 30% of the population we should have 30% of the economy, he suggests.

That’s why its tragic to think that in the State of Maryland with the unemployment rate at a little under 5% why our community has a unemployment and those not in the labor force rate of 55%.

He also let’s us know that our soul power must result in political power. People favorable to our interest must be elected to political offices. People unfavorable should be voted out. He did not distinguish on the basis of color.

Finally, he informed us that we as Black people are world citizens. We have a significant place in the World House.

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