In a country filled with verbal violence and hatred, I find myself greatly missing leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr., who was capable of fighting an issue that oppressed him (to the point of getting him killed) with peace and love. His words were strong and full of prophetic conviction, but his method was that of Jesus.
That is not the case of many in our current generation. Yes, we fight for social justice, but many (including Christians) are not fighting alongside Christ, but alongside their flesh. And as odd as it sounds, I feel like I’ve even seen some fight for social justice alongside the false spiritual principalities and powers. I’ve sensed the ways in which Satan has been able to hijack this movement as an “angel of light” and push some of his own ideas and methods into it.
Don’t get me wrong, whether Christian or not, many of the social justice issues people fight for are good. But without Jesus, at least two things get twisted: (1) the way in which we fight for justice and (2), the desired outcome of our fight.
I’m not looking to expound on this conversation too much in today’s post, but here’s just a few characteristics that should follow a Jesus-oriented social justice movement:
- Fighting with loving techniques rather than hateful techniques.
- Fighting with peaceful techniques rather than violence.
- Fighting for reconciliation and restoration and not just to win.
- Fighting on behalf of those that are oppressed and not for your own pride.
- Fighting without desire for power.
- Radical forgiveness of the other even while they’re oppressing you.
- Love for the other, even if they’re your enemy.
- Praying for and blessing your enemy.
Many of our social justice movements today especially lack these last three points. But this is how Jesus lived his life, and it’s the message that MLK Jr. also preached. And so with that, I leave us with his own challenging words:
While abhorring segregation, we shall love the segregationist. This is the only way to create the beloved community. To our most bitter opponents we say: “We shall match your capacity to inflict suffering by our capacity to endure suffering. We shall meet your physical force with soul force. Do to us what you will, and we shall continue to love you…. Throw us in jail and we shall still love you. Send your hooded perpetrators of violence into our community at the midnight hour and beat us and leave us half dead, and we shall still love you. But be ye assured that we will wear you down by our capacity to suffer. One day we shall win freedom but not only for ourselves. We shall so appeal to your heart and conscience that we shall win you in the process and our victory will be a double victory. (King Jr., Martin Luther. A Gift of Love: Sermons from Strength to Love and Other Preachings. Boston, MA, Beacon Press, 2012, pp. 53-54.)