A few months ago I stumbled across an article entitled “What Would Martin Luther King Jr. Tweet?” written by Alveda King, Dr. King’s niece. I’m sure that many of us remember the great speeches Dr. King gave during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. But sometimes we can forget that he was first and foremost a preacher, and we can overlook that much of his rhetorical power came from his tenure in the pulpit and immersion in God’s word. He understood that the fight for Civil Rights was tied to his eternal faith in our Lord. It was this understanding of the gospel that allowed him to look past the obstacles standing in his way and keep pressing on.
As I was wondering what Martin Luther King would tweet now, I couldn’t help but think of a sermon he gave in 1957 entitled “Love Your Enemies.” In this message he examined Christ’s commandment in the Gospel of Matthew and unpacked the meaning behind the Greek word our Lord used for “love” – agape.
“Agape love is a love that seeks nothing in return. It is an overflowing love. It’s what theologians would call the love of God working in the lives of men. And when you rise to love on this level you begin to love men not because they are likable but because God loves them. You look at every man and you love him because you know God loves them. And he might be the worst person you’ve ever seen. And this is what Jesus means, I think in this very passage, when he says “love your enemy” — and it’s significant that he does not say “like” your enemy.” (Love Your Enemies, Sermon, MLK Jr., 1957)
He then went on to remind his congregation that you don’t have to like what someone says or agree with the actions that they take – but Jesus does command us to love them. It was this revolutionary idea of love that seeks nothing in return that we find at the heart of Christ’s message. And it was his understanding of this gospel that enabled Dr. King and those who worked alongside him to transform our nation for the better. It is extremely difficult to condense someone’s entire life message down into a 140-character tweet. But I think we can see from his life lived out that he tried to love the way Christ loved. And he encouraged all those he preached to live out this kind of love. So in that light, I think Dr. King would tweet something like this – “Have faith in the God of the gospel. God is love. Love never fails.”
I’m Joseph Tkach, Speaking of LIFE.