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Jim Brown. Sam Cooke. Cassius Clay. Malcolm X.

The new movie “One Night in Miami,” shows a life-changing conversation between these 4 great men about their responsibility to change the world with the opportunity they’ve been given as young successful black men in the 1960’s. They challenge each other to do things that they otherwise would not have had the courage to do. Although some were controversial figures you could not deny their influence.

One Night in Miami highlights the importance of friendship. God wants us to have real friends who not only believe in us when we’re having doubts and fear, but also show us uncomfortable truth we might be running from. 

We need these kinds of friends to push us to achieve greatness and change the world. I’m Kenzo and this is Deep Spirituality

“One Night In Miami” takes place on the night Cassius Clay won the world heavyweight championship in 1964. Four men went to Hampton House Motel to celebrate Cassius’s victory. Among them were Jim Brown, an NFL legend, Sam Cooke, an amazing singer songwriter, Malcolm X, a great figure for the civil rights movement, and Cassius Clay AKA Muhammed Ali – the greatest boxer to ever walk the earth. 

Everyone was having a great time celebrating the new champion’s win, but Malcolm wanted to have a night to reflect on their struggles as young successful black men. He felt they had a responsibility to share the power they had attained with their talents to better the lives of their communities. Sam wanted to celebrate what Cassius just accomplished, but Cassius hadn’t told Jim and Sam that he was thinking about joining the Nation of Islam. And everyone had different perspectives about what would make a difference in their lives and in the world.

It’s better to be corrected openly if it stems from hidden love. [6] You can trust a friend who wounds you with his honesty, but your enemy’s pretended flattery comes from insincerity.

Proverbs 27:5-6 TPT

God wants us to have honest conversations just like the ones these four men had in the movie. He doesn’t want us to pretend like everything is just ok and let our friends do whatever they want. He wants us to be honest with others even when it might hurt them to hear what you’re saying. When we truly care about our friends and about making a difference, we will have a vested interest in their lives and want to see them succeed. Honesty is required for strong friendships to be made.

Malcolm had a family and, as one of the head figures of the civil rights movement, was under a great deal of pressure because he was being followed by the government. Still, he was trying to hold onto his convictions and convince Cassius to follow in his footsteps and become a voice for the black community. 

Sam had a different perspective. He chose to follow his own path to empowering black people through understanding the system in place and earning respect through music and his record label. 

Jim Brown was a silent observer. He didn’t speak much, but he had a deep understanding of how his friends felt. He was someone who was ready to listen. But he was afraid to talk about how he wanted to pursue the opportunity to become an actor.

The main point of contention in the movie was between Malcolm and Sam, who didn’t agree about how to fight racism. Where Malcolm chooses to have an us or them mentality and talk about which side Sam is on, Sam chooses to pander to them by making music that sounds nice but has no real meaning behind it.

It takes a grinding wheel to sharpen a blade, and so a friendly argument can sharpen a man. 

Proverbs 27:17 TPT

The conversation in the movie inspired me because it helped me see an example of how being sharpened and influenced by other people can open us up to possibilities we might have been closed off to. When we remember how God can influence our lives for the better, we start seeing opportunities and possibilities when people disagree with us. 

The reason for why we sharpen an axe is because it takes less effort and it becomes more efficient when it’s sharp. It is the same concept with our relationship with our friends and God.

I can often feel scared whenever someone disagrees or isn’t happy with something I do. But if we can see that growing and correction is just a part of life, we’ll learn to enjoy the process and appreciate the relationships that push us to greatness.

Malcolm points out to Sam and the group the hard truth that Sam was too afraid to write anything real and challenged him to be courageous. Malcolm shows him a song from Bob Dylan called “blowin’ in the wind.” He thought Sam was good, but he believed he had the potential to be better and his fear was stopping him from being great. Sam storms out of the room and Cassius and Malcolm have this short exchange:

We’re supposed to be friends man

Well I am his friend and that is why I am trying to give him a wake up call

One Night In Miami

And this is the point in the movie where I really noticed Jim Brown as someone who observed and spoke only when he needed to. Malcolm was under a great deal of stress because he was trying to change the world. 

The problem with changing the world is you can’t do it alone. Jim noticed this and tried to help Malcolm understand what was happening in his heart. He didn’t force Malcolm to see things the way he did, but he talked about his perspective and respected Malcolm enough to let him make his own decisions.

Malcolm had started seeing his friends and their successes as tools to change the way the world sees black people, instead of friendships he could learn from. Jim reminded Malcolm that he was only human and needed to learn when to slow down and enjoy the things God had given him. 

Malcolm was used to speaking about his ideals in front of an audience. He became so used to pushing his agenda, he couldn’t slow down enough to be genuinely himself. He needed this conversation with his friends to remember what he was fighting for. Being free to be who he is and how he can be so much more than just words he’s saying.

In fact, the human body is not one single part but rather many parts mingled into one. [16] And if the ear were to say, “Since I’m not an eye, I’m not really a part of the body,” it’s forgetting that it is still an important part of the body. [18] But God has carefully designed each member and placed it in the body to function as he desires. [19] A diversity is required, for if the body consisted of one single part, there wouldn’t be a body at all! [26] In that way, whatever happens to one member happens to all. If one suffers, everyone suffers. If one is honored, everyone rejoices.

1 Corinthians 12:14,16,18-19,26 TPT

All these friends became successful individually with their unique talent and work ethic. But they all needed each other to refine and strengthen their convictions and desires. 

God places people in our lives because we need each other. We’re not meant to go through life alone and a diversity is required for us to help each other when we need it the most. Malcolm needed to be honest about the stress he was going through. Jim was worried about what it would mean to choose to become an actor and stop being an NFL player. Sam was angry that people could write meaningful songs and was scared about the rejection that could come from doing something different. Cassius needed to admit his doubts and accept that they’re just a part of life. 

We can learn a lot from this amazing group of friends. When one of them was struggling, all of them helped that person out. When one was honored, everyone partied with him. And when they needed sharpening, they had honest conversations. God doesn’t just want us to have friends that simply spend time together or have fun. God wants us to have transformative and life changing friendships that have purpose. We need to understand that he’s given us the friends we have for a specific reason. And only then can we expect a change is gonna come.

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