Remembering Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Bob Livingsto

January 18, 2021

With today being the 35th year MLK Day has been commemorated in our nation, I thought I would take a moment to speak to the powerful and lasting legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  I grew up during the years of Dr. King and the civil rights movements.  As a young person, I remember being moved by the passion and resiliency of the protestors and appalled by the treatment these peaceful “soldiers” often received at the hands of their detractors.  Add to that the fact that King was preaching from a Christian framework and reference, inspired me as a young Christian.  On April 4, 1968, I was shocked, scared, and deeply saddened by Dr. King’s assassination.  I remember deeply grieving we had lost a great American, preacher, brother, and leader that infamous day.

Some years later, as I began my long seminary stretch, I started to read a number of Dr. King’s writings, along with Dr. King’s book, Strength to Love.  In this very Christ-centered and faith-centered book, Dr. King names our call to love as a direct response to the loving nature of God and the Bible’s mandate to love others as God loves us.  One passage in the book especially challenged me.  I have quoted it below: 

Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, 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. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction. So when Jesus says “Love your enemies,” he is setting forth a profound and ultimately inescapable admonition. Have we not come to such an impasse in the modern world that we must love our enemies– or else? The chain reaction of evil–hate begetting hate, wars producing wars–must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation.

Thinking of Dr. King today, and the uncertain and troubled circumstances we currently face within our nation and our world, I believe Dr. King’s words are as relevant today as ever.  Today we need light-bearers to lead the charge in helping to diminish the darkness, fear, hate, and insecurity most of us are feeling and seeing.  Indeed, as Dr. King points out, we need the strength to love…even as God so graciously and limitlessly loves us.  

I hope you are up to the challenge!

Blessings today,

Bob Livingston