I think before I go too far, it is important to note that I am not an expert on Martin Luther King. I am speaking today simply from the knowledge I have acquired about his movement of non-violence. Though he lost his life tragically, his impact continues. Martin Luther King Day is celebrated everywhere and with passion. Yesterday, I took the day off, but as I was taking in all of the media, it became very apparent to me that the movement he led has had such a lasting impact while other movements we have seen in our current culture are not having the same impact. None of these are having as great of an impact as his, good or bad. And it seems that all of the social movements we see today, especially those surrounding race, fall so short of what Martin Luther King did.
If I could unveil the reasons for his success quickly, I would simply quote from 1 Corinthians:
Love never fails.
Dr. King believed in the truths of Scripture. He brought God into the conversation for God is love. His non-violent movement was shrouded in love for people of all color. To stand of to institutional racism was love for the Black race. To do nothing required no love at all. He resolved to do something. He loved.
He loved, but he never coveted. To covet is not to simply want what someone has, but to want it so badly that you don’t want anyone to have it until you have it first. This is where I believe the movements of today miss it. They covet. There is such rage in the movements we see today. Not only do they see what they desire, but a there is a great expression of rage toward those who have what they want. “Unfair” is a word that is thrown around everywhere in the social movements of today. Equality, whether racial, socioeconomic, or any other type of equality is sought after by taking away from one group in the pursuit of equality. We have seen policemen murdered in protest of police brutality. An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, but this is not what Dr. King did, nor is that kind of protest blessed by God.
I am not at all suggesting that every person connected to a coveting social movement feels this way. I am sure that not every person feels this way. However, I do see the spirit of covetousness at work in the midst of these.
Consider these most powerful words from Dr. King’s ‘I Have a Dream Speech:’
But there is something that I must say to my people, who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice: In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.
Wow! Not living during this time, but seeing the video footage of black men and women being beaten, intimidated, brutalized, it is so evident to see the work of the Lord in the movement led by Dr. King. Love your enemies. Pray for them. Bless them. Dr. King never endorsed pursuit of equality or freedom by attempting to take those very things from others. He not only loved his own race, but he expressed love to the white race, even the worst racists. He never despised their freedom for the lack of his own. He celebrated their freedom and wished to make it available to all men of every color.
Love is not love when it seeks harm to others no matter what they may do. Our world has lost this truth. We have fallen to the pagan love which finds no fault in inflicting harm into its enemy. Scripture says that anyone can love those who love them, even the pagans do this.
46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
The spirit of covetousness can also work in reverse where those who have forcefully work to keep others from having the same. This is what was seen so evidently on Bloody Sunday. The all while male state trooper force, representing so many racists in the nation, beat and bloodied the protesters. They would rather utterly destroy them than to let them enjoy their same freedom.
I would have to imagine that what Dr. King saw in the nation at that time produced anger in him. He could have easily become covetous. His anger could have burned against those who committed these atrocities. But I also have to think that once again he turned to the Scripture and refused to look at the offenders as his enemies.
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
He resisted and helped a group of people to also resist directing their anger at flesh and blood. They fought a spiritual battle against covetousness and love won. Love always wins. Love never fails.
Our world is not perfect and because sin exists, the spirit of covetousness will always exist until the Lord returns one day. It will exist in national venues such as racism, ethnic cleansing, and religious persecution. It will also exist in the small cracks of our life such as co-workers working behind your back to take what you have. The lesson learned though from Dr. King is that love, true love come down from Heaven, a love that blesses its enemies while struggling for equality and freedom, will always win.
Thank you Dr. King for having the courage to lead this world-changing movement according to your faith in God and His Word. May the leaders of social movements always seek to love those they are fighting for and love those they are fighting against. Let the Word of God ring true and the legacy of Dr. King’s work never fade.
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