It came yesterday! I ordered it from Blackwell’s in England. I popped the tab and pulled the cardboard shipping container apart. Blackwell’s packs their merchandise with such care. I laid a nicely printed strip aside taking a bit of pleasure in their gesture — Blackwell’s extra touch of excellence. Inside, lay a crisp, tight, and clean new hardback book nestled inside its taut flyleaf cover.
I turned to read the sermon in the book that drew my interest to the purchase: Chapter 5, “Loving Your Enemies” and I was not disappointed. Dr. Martin Luther King is the author. The book is entitled, Strength to Love. I took the printed strip — an embossed book mark — and placed it at the beginning of Chapter 5. I want to read it again today.
I wish this message of King’s were as common to the cultural memory as his stirring speech, “I have a Dream.” He presented the vision that can turn hatred out and replace it with a clear, truthful, and respectful rebuttal . King defined the self-inflicted wound of hatred’s stain on our minds. It is better for ourselves and better for others if we lay the blade of hatred aside. And harshness soon becomes hatred and hatred soon becomes harmful and before long, harmful words become weapons that sheer the skin. Jesus really did teach and show how the way forward is to be wrapped in the willingness to bare the cross for our enemies. King explained these biblical teachings with clarity and left a map forward as to how to begin the journey.
The memory of King’s life and death capture the power of how his words were welded to the way he practiced the kind of love he explains in this sermon. His life reflected the life of Jesus in his desire to maneuver the narrow ridge between respect and taking a stand against evil. To show love in a disagreement is to present our words as a gift of mercy — packaged with excellence, embellished with care.