Je­sus isn’t play­ing (Part 4)

South Florida Times - - PRAYERFUL LIVING - Rev. Maria Mal­lory White and Rev. John F.White II

How can any­one love their en­emy? That’s the ques­tion the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. tack­led in his ser­mon, “Je­sus Wasn’t Play­ing” as he ad­dressed his con­gre­ga­tion at the Dexter Av­enue Bap­tist Church.

He wanted them to know Chris­tian love is not a sentimental some­thing that we talk about. It’s not merely emo­tional.This love that Je­sus in­tends and com­mands is cre­ative. It’s un­der­stand­ing good­will for all peo­ple. It is the re­fusal to de­feat any in­di­vid­ual, per se.

When you rise to the level of this love, of its great beauty and power, you seek only to de­feat evil sys­tems. In­di­vid­u­als who hap­pen to be caught up in that sys­tem, you love, but you seek to de­feat the sys­tem. This love is agape, and agape de­feats sys­tems and of­fers hope for peo­ple in those sys­tems.

That’s why Harriet Tub­man con­ducted on that Un­der­ground Rail­road. That’s why Dr. King led the boy­cott of the bus com­pany in Mont­gomery. That’s why Thur­good Mar­shall fought to over­turn “sep­a­rate but equal.”That’s why Gandhi led a boy­cott of Bri­tish goods. That’s why the chil­dren of Soweto, South Africa, re­fused to speak Afrikaans, that’s why Colin Kaeper­nick took a knee—the list goes on and on. The point is the bat­tle isn’t against an in­di­vid­ual; it’s against the sys­tem, and agape de­feats the sys­tem, of­fer­ing hope for peo­ple in the process.

And King told the church folk that morn­ing that “agape” is more than eros; agape is more than philia; agape 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 peo­ple’s lives.

And when you rise to love on this level, you be­gin to love peo­ple, not be­cause they are lik­able, but be­cause God loves them. You look at ev­ery per­son, and you love them be­cause you know God loves them—even though they might be the worst peo­ple you’ve ever seen.

Je­sus wasn’t play­ing. Je­sus was se­ri­ous: “Love your en­emy.” He does not say, “Like your en­emy.”“Like” seeks to at­tach to some­thing sentimental. Af­fec­tion­ate.There are a lot of peo­ple who are very dif­fi­cult to like.

There are a lot peo­ple who we don’t like be­cause of what they do to us. Don’t like what they say about us and our peo­ple. Don’t like their at­ti­tudes. Don’t like some of the things they’re do­ing.There are a whole lot of peo­ple, about whom we can say without a doubt and without hes­i­ta­tion, we don’t like them.

But Je­sus says love them. Be­cause we are not fight­ing against flesh-and-blood en­e­mies, but against evil rulers and au­thor­i­ties of the un­seen world, against mighty pow­ers in this dark world, and against evil spir­its in the heav­enly places. And love is greater than like. Je­sus says love them. Be­cause love is greater than like. Be­cause the weapons of our war­fare are not merely hu­man, but they have divine power to de­stroy strongholds. And love is greater than like.

Some­one can mis­be­have and kill like. Some­one can lie and kill like. Some­one can steal and kill like. Some­one can op­press and kill like. And from those things, there’s no re­turn.

But love is greater than like. Love has within it a re­demp­tive power. And there is a power in love that lives on and that even­tu­ally trans­forms in­di­vid­u­als.That’s why Je­sus says,“Love your en­e­mies.” Be­cause that’s what Je­sus does. And He tells us to go and do like­wise.

Rev. Maria Mal­lory White and Rev. John F. White II are pas­tors at Im­manuel Tem­ple, a holis­tic, King­dom of God-cen­tered ap­proach to min­istry lo­cated at 7040 Pines Boule­vard Pem­broke Pines. To con­tact the Whites, email con­tact@theit.org or call 754-400-7927.

PHOTO COUR­TESY OF STEVEN WAY N E

PHOTO COUR­TESY OF THE WHITES

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