Dr. Charles Revis, Executive Minister
I’m writing these words watching the inauguration of President Barack Obama while reflecting on the courage of Martin Luther King, and his striving for justice for all people regardless of color. Our president would not be in office if it weren't for the leadership and sacrifice of Dr. King and all who joined in the civil rights movement. His courage effected long-lasting, systemic change in our nation.
Yet, in his striving for change Dr. King refused to succumb to hatred. He held tenaciously to non-violence and love of his enemies in spite of imprisonment, life threats, beatings and bombing of his home.
When word came that his home had been bombed he left the church where he was preaching. An angry mob had surrounded his home armed with weapons and poised to take vengeance. After a quick inspection revealed that his family was safe Dr. King addressed the angry mob with these words: “Don’t do anything panicky. Don’t get your weapons. If you have weapons, take them home. He who lives by the sword will perish by the sword. Remember that is what Jesus said. We are not advocating violence. We want to love our enemies. I want you to love our enemies. Be good to them. This is what we must live by. We must meet hate with love.’”
This determination to hold to love in the face of pressure to seek revenge set Martin Luther King apart. It is one of the reasons why he was so successful in the long run.
He once said: “I have decided to stick to love...Hate is too great a burden to bear.”
And, on another occasion he wrote: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”
Dr. King’s legacy reminds us that Jesus’ ways are best. The direction of our nation and our culture may deeply disturb us. We may despair that the way of Christ seems to be loosing its influence in our world. Yet, none of these should elicit a response of hatred from Jesus followers. Rather, we are to redouble our commitment to the way of the Gospel, which, at its core, is the way of love, even if such love eventually leads us to lay down our lives for the sake of others (Phil 2:5-8, John 10:11). Our Lord calls us to love radically, unconditionally and sacrificially. He calls us to live out the way of the cross as we engage this world with the Good News. May our ministries to a hurting and broken world be soaked with the love of Jesus, for only such love can dispel hatred and bring the light of God’s grace to shine within darkness.