Jesus said, "You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven." - Matthew 5:44, NIV
So much has been in the news about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. the past few days because of his birthday celebration on Monday. I think that one of the best examples of facing persecution in a Christ-like way was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
A while back, Susan McLeish, one of our members, shared with me some original papers that belonged to her father, the Rev. Doyne Michie, who died not too long ago. Doyne was involved in the civil rights movement in Mississippi in the early 60s. It was a difficult time. But in his papers is a copy of the principles for non-violence that were passed out to those who were trying to bring about positive change. These are some of those guidelines for the protestors:
Love your enemy. This sounds like a paradox, but it works. You are not up against a deep-eyed villain but only a man who has done wrong. Even though you are striving to undo that wrong, show good will to him no matter what he does . . . Let him know at all times that you are out to establish justice, not to defeat him. . . . Give your opponent a way out.
The approach of Dr. King was to give people a way out of their sin. Whether it was a call to do things differently so that those being wronged can find a way out of their suffering, or whether it was trying to help someone see not only the errors of their ways, but that there is always a better way - we all need to find a way out of the sin and brokenness in our world. Leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr. help us find our way out. They also challenge us to give others a way out of their sin, rather than simply judging and condemning them.