Martin Luther King Jr. was out for more than winning an argument—he was out for winning people. That is to say that winning a debate and proving people wrong (as necessary as that was) wasn’t at the heart of his movement—converting angry white racists into black advocates through pacifistic enemy love was the highest goal of all. What greater war can one fight than a war that grows your own ranks?
I didn’t seek out pacifism, pacifism sought out me. I was reading a book one day that consistently proved how often Jesus called us to win people over with self-sacrificial love until his teaching finally stuck. This understanding of life seemed so backward that I eventually had to recognize that it must have come from another world.
My mind slowly began to conform itself. Day by day I’d think of a horrible situation and then ask myself how I could react with enemy-love. Without knowing it, I was beginning to set myself up to respond differently should such a situation ever present itself. Guns were not the answer. Death was not the answer. I would not create an ethic of anxiety based on “what-ifs,” but an ethic of cruciform love. For if Jesus could win me over through self-sacrifice, perhaps I can do the same for someone else.
*This devotional was created out of the themes of Matthew 5:38-48 found in today’s reading at CommonPrayer.net. Below are the various AI-created pictures I typed into existence via Mid Journey to mock up artwork for today’s post.