It seems fitting to write about the impact of love on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. As I began thinking of this post, I definitely wanted to include Scripture because that is the lens through which I want to orient my life and this ministry, but also I thought of people outside of the Bible that modeled love well and two names came to mind immediately: Martin Luther King Jr. and Mother Teresa.

Both these individuals seemed to understand certain fundamentals of love as outlined by the Bible and I can’t help but take note of certain creeds that must have been foundational to their lives. First of all, both clearly believed Jesus when He said, “‘A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.’” in John 13:34-35. Similar words in 1 John 4:19 encourage us in the same manner, “We love because He first loved us.” Their lives modeled sacrificial love to others, despite the inconvenience or hardship it brought upon themselves.

Tim Keller puts it well: “You can love generously if you have been generously loved.” I believe both understood this to be true. Lives lived for others occur because of a transformation of our hearts, not because we are inherently good or selfless. The reality is that we are sinful (our good deeds are like filthy rags [as described in Isaiah 64:6]), but God makes a way for us to experience His love regardless of the choices we’ve made. We can love because we first were loved by a Creator and Father who is good and made us in His image (Genesis 1:26) and who sent His Son to save us from our sin (in making our own choices and not trusting the original plan God has for us) like Jesus tells us in John 3:16-17. 

I am thankful for those who have gone before us as humble servants of Jesus, modeling Him in word and deed like Martin Luther King Jr. and Mother Teresa (and countless others). A life lived in love and willing to stand up for Truth is an example our world can continue to learn from today. Both MLK Jr. and Mother Teresa knew that the battle is more than physically meets the eye, (although it is so important to never overlook anyone and defend the voiceless and powerless and to love and respect those created in the image of God = EVERYONE), but that there was (and continues to be) a spiritual battle for the souls of our fellow man. In Luke 12:4 Jesus encourages us, ‘”I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do.’” and in John 16:33, “‘I have said these things to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart: I have overcome the world.’” The world is broken, our flesh is still sinful, and we are not promised an easy road (in fact we “will have tribulation“). BUT GOD. (“But take heart: I have overcome the world.“). He has come to rescue and redeem us and He wants us to experience freedom and perfect love (1 John 4:10-12) that can only be found in Him.

Be a light in that dark place; LOVE when it is hard and seems contrary to what the world would have us do. It makes a difference and it will only serve to change us for the better. I am so grateful for those who have gone before us to pave the way to show how to love others well and to do the right thing, no matter what it costs.