This week we reflect on Martin Luther King’s vision of the Beloved Community. This vision is one colored with the peace and wholeness of people reconciled to one another, the created order, and the One who made them all.
The problem is that peace is hard won.
I find myself strained each week, pressed on all sides by the competing interests of our culture. In every direction is a political interest group, advertiser, or denomination that seeks to orient my thinking and behavior around a paradigm of us against them.
By the world’s way of thinking, peace is only won through our triumph and the submission or elimination of the other. However, this kind of peace is no peace at all, but the entry way to an endless cycle of purging. All but the most pure have to be destroyed.
It isn’t enough for us to say that muslims and atheists are not our enemies and then to feel good about ourselves. We have to believe that fundamentalists and those with very different political outlooks and are not our enemies either.
I’m reminded of the adage, “Fighting for peace is like fornicating for chastity.”
Reconciliation does not come though domination, but self sacrifice. When we choose to reconcile we choose to die. Parts of who we were, the ways we thought, lived, believed, have to end. We have to change to make room for the other. We have to change for the other to change in ways that are substantive and meaningful.
We believe in a God who chose not to destroy, but to die. This God did so that we might be reconciled to God and each other through God’s self giving in Jesus Christ. This God calls us to do the same. This is why, though the empire celebrates Martin Luther King Day around January 15, a day of birth, the church should properly celebrate on April 4th, a day of sacrifice.
Roger Jasper is senior minister at Living Faith Baptist Fellowship in Elizabethtown, Ky., and is also a CBF Fellow.
This column is Part 9 of the Dr. King and Beloved Community series here at CBFblog. Check out other posts in this series below:
Part 1 — ”Dr. King and Beloved Community — A CBFblog series” (by Aaron Weaver, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship)
Part 2 — “The The Spiritual Discipline of Martin Luther King Jr.” (by Doug Weaver, Baylor University)
Part 3 — “Celebrating Dr. King and the Separation of Church and State” (by Charles Watson Jr., Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty)
Part 4 — “‘Tell Them About the Dream, Martin!’” (by Patrick Anderson, Christian Ethics Today)
Part 5 — “Little boxes on the hillside — Dr. King’s Dream as part of God’s Dream” (by Lanta Cooper, Park Avenue Baptist Church)
Part 6 — “MLK Day of Service at First Baptist Church, Decatur Ga.” (by Sharyn Dowd, FBC Decatur)
Part 7 — “Disturbers of the Peace: Living into Dr. King’s Dream” (by Jim Holladay, Lyndon Baptist Church, Louisville, Ky.)
Part 8 — “The Vision of the Beloved Community: Are we there yet? (by Trey Lyon, Park Avenue Baptist Church and CBF field personnel)