Monday, January 17, 2011


In his many sermons, Martin Luther King Jr. explained the complexity of the challenges we face, especially in the one sermon he liked most among all the presentations he gave during his too brief life of only thirty-nine years. He delivered this sermon all over America, and also in London at St. Paul’s Cathedral in 1964 when he was on his way to Norway to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. The title is “The Three Dimensions of a Complete Life.” If you don’t know this beautiful sermon, I highly recommend that you read it as soon as possible.  Because, for  King, the first dimension of a complete life is self-acceptance. This means developing your personal resources, abilities, intelligence and talents. It also involves doing life’s work “so well that the living, the dead, or the unborn couldn’t do it better.”  Another time, he phrased it this way:  “we must set out to do a good job, irrespective of race, and do it so well that nobody could do it better.” King elaborated on what he meant by this first dimension when he said, “We must work on two fronts. On the one hand we must continually resist the system of segregation---the system which is the basic cause of our lagging standards; on the other hand, we must work constructively to improve the lagging standards which are the effects of segregation. There must be a rhythm of alteration between attacking the cause and healing the effects.” In other words, this second front of struggle---self-improvement---is the first dimension of a complete life.

The second important dimension of life, said King, was learning “that there is nothing greater than to do something for others.” This is what we are reminded to do each year during his birthday celebration.  And finally, the third dimension for King was the quest for the divine because, he said, “We were made for God, and we will be restless until we find rest in him.”

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