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Tag Archive | "Love"

Extremist for Love


By Ronnie McBrayer

By Ronnie McBrayer

When it comes to the late Martin Luther King, Jr., it’s almost impossible to supplant the importance of his 1963 defense of his nonviolent strategies, a document entitled, “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.” MLK used his jail cell to take his detractors to task, specifically a group of Alabama ministers, who had taken umbrage with his tactics.

Those ministers crafted a document entitled, “A Call for Unity,” imploring King to cease his “extreme measures” of boycotts and demonstrations. After it was printed in the local newspaper, King drafted “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” as his spirited response.

In it he fiercely attacked the false peace that they paternalistically peddled. What was required for lasting peace and justice was to first “bring to the surface the hidden tension…bring it out in the open, where it can be seen and dealt with.” It was King’s goal, always through nonviolent means, to foster this social crisis of inequality until it could no longer be ignored. Then, and only then, was systematic change possible.

Was this approach, “extreme?” Absolutely, as King wrote: “Was not Jesus an extremist for love…Was not Amos an extremist for justice…So the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate or for love?

“In that dramatic scene on Calvary’s hill three men were crucified…All three were crucified for the crime of extremism. Two were extremists for immorality, and thus fell below their environment. The other, Jesus Christ, was an extremist for love, truth, and goodness, and thereby rose above his environment. The nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists.”

When I read those words I can’t help but be captured by King as a spiritual guide, a mentor, a prophet whose words, passion, and creative extremism can point us to a better future. And I say this as a man who was born years after his death; a man with no claim on MLK’s legacy; a man with a Deep South lineage where my grandfather still spoke of “The War of Northern Aggression.”

At last, I have to agree with Tavis Smiley who says, “King is the greatest single individual this country has ever produced.” May he continue to produce fruit in us all—black, white, Latino, or Asian—because we need extremists more than ever, extremists in love.

Ronnie McBrayer is a syndicated columnist, blogger, pastor, and author of multiple books. Visit his website at www.ronniemcbrayer.me.

 

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Love saves the world from death


by Ronnie McBrayer

by Ronnie McBrayer

I pulled from my bookshelf a few systematic theology books that I had not opened for a long time. I blew off the dust, cracked the stiff binding, and dove into the hundreds of pages filled with declarations about the attributes and characteristics of God. As I skimmed the pages I was made freshly aware of how distracted we have become.

For all of Christianity’s theoretical words and defenses, the Apostle John was simple and winsome with his definition of God: “God is love,” he said. If Christians daily practiced this definition instead of declaring and defending how right we are, I imagine the world would be a much different place.

Granted, love-talk is about all it is—just talk. The late George Carlin said, “Love is incredibly powerful…But love can’t change the world. It’s nice. It’s pleasant. It’s better than hate. But it has no special power.”

I’m not yet ready to agree. Instead, I’m going to take John at his word: Love is God’s nature and love comes from God. Once this love gets planted in our hearts, it spills out to others, resulting in transformation; it changes the world, one person at a time.

To that end, there was a rabbi who became friends with a Persian fortuneteller. Every morning the two sat together and watched people head out of the village to work. As a man walked by, the fortuneteller said, “I foresee that this man will not come back. He will be bitten by a snake and die.”

But at evening they saw the condemned man re-enter the village! The Persian ran at once to him, grabbed his backpack, and emptied it on the ground. An enormous snake spilled out of the bag; a snake very much dead. So the rabbi asked the man, “What did you do today to avoid misfortune?”

The man answered, “I cut trees in the forest. Every day at lunch the workers place our food in a common basket and eat together. Today, one of us had no bread and was ashamed. So I told my friends, ‘Let me collect the food.’ When I came to him I pretended to take bread from him, so that he would not be embarrassed.”

To this the rabbi burst out laughing. He said, “My son, today you obeyed God’s commandment to love! You saved your coworker and also saved yourself!” And turning to his fortuneteller friend, the rabbi said, “When one loves from his heart, he changes the fates. Love saves the world from death.” Indeed, it does.

Ronnie McBrayer is a syndicated columnist, pastor, and author. His newest book is “The Gospel According to Waffle House.” You can read more at www.ronniemcbrayer.me. 

 

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