Love Thy Enemies
Martin Luther King often preached during his ministry about Christ’s command in Matthew 5: 44: “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” He believed this command to be an absolute necessity for the survival of our civilization, and that only love would save this world, especially love of our enemies.
During January’s MLK remembrances and celebrations, I watched a documentary regarding the Freedom Riders, that brave group of individuals inspired by Dr. King’s message to fight for social justice through nonviolent protests and actions. Time had faded my memories but the documentary forced me to recall the hate, rancor, and violence that confronted these young riders during those turbulent days. And then, just as quickly, my mind was carried to today with the realization that sadly, very little had changed.
Hate only intensifies evil in the universe. Hate will consume us and blind us. There is nothing more tragic than seeing someone who is so consumed by hate they cannot find good in anyone or anything around them. It’s a descending spiral that eventually leads not only to their own destruction, but for anyone who comes in contact with them as well. Loving our enemies and those who persecute us is the only way to end the cycle of hate.
During one of Dr. King’s sermons on the topic, he recalled an evening when he and his brother were driving on two-lane roads from Chattanooga to Atlanta. Many of the cars they met refused to dim their lights when approaching one another. In retaliation, Dr. King’s brother proclaimed that he too would keep his bright lights the next time a vehicle refused to dim their lights. Dr. King begged his brother, “Oh no, don’t do that. There’d be too much light on this highway and it will end in mutual destruction for all. Somebody must have enough sense to dim the lights.”
Let us pray for God’s grace, so that we love our enemies as Christ has commanded and have enough sense to dim the lights.
Appointed readings for today: Deuteronomy 26:16-19, Psalm 119:1-8, Matthew 5:43-48