Yesterday I attended a sermon at Discovery Church in Orlando by Jon Tyson that really hit me deep down in my soul. The service was about overcoming evil with good. Most of my life I was always taught to stand up and defeat and destroy those who I viewed as my enemy. Deep down I always take pride in viewing myself as someone who has stood up to bullies and fought valiantly for the right cause. It turns out fighting is the opposite of what Jesus wants me to do. I’ve created a fantasy where my violence made me the hero when in reality I was going against what God is telling me to do. Here are some verses and stories that they went over in the sermon that really stood out to me and wanted to share:
Luke 6:27-37 NIV
“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you. “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.
In the sermon, Jon Tyson shared several quotes and examples from the life of Dr Martin Luther King Jr. One of Dr. King’s main messages was the message of Agape love. I’ve heard of Agape love before and was fairly familiar with what it was, but for some reason it didn’t really become clear to me until yesterday. I did some searching on the internet and found this pretty thorough explanation of what it is:
The Greek word agape is often translated “love” in the New Testament. How is “agape love” different from other types of love? The essence of agape love is self-sacrifice. Unlike our English word “love,” agape is not used in the Bible to refer to romantic or sexual love. Nor does it refer to close friendship or brotherly love, for which the Greek word philia is used. Nor does agape mean “charity,” a term which the King James translators carried over from the Latin. Agape love is unique and is distinguished by its nature and character.
Agape is love which is of and from God, whose very nature is love itself. The apostle John affirms this in 1 John 4:8: “God is love.” God does not merely love; He is love itself. Everything God does flows from His love. But it is important to remember that God’s love is not a sappy, sentimental love such as we often hear portrayed. God loves because that is His nature and the expression of His being. He loves the unlovable and the unlovely (us!), not because we deserve to be loved, but because it is His nature to love us, and He must be true to His nature and character. God’s love is displayed most clearly at the cross, where Christ died for the unworthy creatures who were “dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1), not because we did anything to deserve it, “but God commends His love toward us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). The object of God’s agape love never does anything to merit His love. We are the undeserving recipients upon whom He lavishes that love. His love was demonstrated when He sent His Son into the world to “seek and save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10) and to provide eternal life to those He sought and saved. He paid the ultimate sacrifice for those He loves.
That was some pretty strong stuff and here is a great example of a time he displayed this in his life:
In his book, David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants, Malcolm Gladwell tells a story about him (Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.) that I love.
“Once in Birmingham, when King was giving a speech, a two-hundred-pound white man charged the stage and began pummeling King with his fists. As King’s aides rushed to defend him, McWhorter writes:
“They were astounded to watch King become his assailant’s protector. He held him solicitously and, as the audience began singing Movement songs, told him that their cause was just, that violence was self-demeaning, that “we’re going to win.” Then King introduced him to the crowd, as though he were a surprise guest. Roy James, a twenty-four-year-old native New Yorker who lived in an American Nazi Party dormitory in Arlington, Virginia, began to weep in King’s embrace.”
As this story was told in church I got a little teary eyed because I was touched by something someone had done years before I was born. I always thought of bravery as something that involved actively fighting against an oppressor. I had read so many times about what Jesus told us to do and for some reason I always felt I had a problem with simply being a “weak” pacifist. Man was I wrong. I’ll end this little blog with some quotes from Martin Luther King Jr. that was pretty solid.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Quotations
The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral,
begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy.
Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it.
Through violence you may murder the liar,
but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth.
Through violence you may murder the hater,
but you do not murder hate.
In fact, violence merely increases hate.
So it goes.
Returning violence for violence multiplies violence,
adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.
Darkness cannot drive out darkness:
only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Nonviolence is the answer
to the crucial political and moral questions of our time:
the need for man to overcome oppression and violence
without resorting to oppression and violence.
Man must evolve for all human conflict
a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation.
The foundation of such a method is love.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech,
Stockholm, Sweden, December 11, 1964
I hope some of these quotations helped you in some way, I know they did me. Whether you agreed with Martin Luther King or not, he definitely showed obedience to God in how he handled himself. Have a great day!
Here is a link to the sermon: The Power of Blessing Your Enemies
Here are the notes from that sermon: Notes