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King’s Kingdom Way

• Dennis Edwards, Greg Boyd

This weekend we honor the memory and life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with a message from Dennis Edwards and Greg Boyd. King dedicated his life to the pursuit of the one new humanity inaugurated in the life of Jesus and this sermon focuses on King’s commitment to justice, peace and love.

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Martin Luther King understood that Jesus came to tear down the walls that divide and rank people according to race, gender, wealth and social status. He understood that Jesus came to set captives free and to end oppression. And he committed his life, and ultimately gave his life, to help this one new humanity, created in Christ Jesus, to become a manifest reality in the United States.

Sometimes there is trepidation within the church when issues of race and reconciliation come up because they can be perceived as liberal, but the reality is that issues of race are all throughout the Bible from the tower of Babel (Genesis 11) to the council in Jerusalem (Acts 15). The new humanity language of Jesus and echoed through the voice of Martin Luther King challenges our understanding of the world in profound ways.

This sermon focused on the three main commitments that Jesus and King held in common. First, they both strongly maintained a commitment to justice. King often quoted the book of Amos 5:24 (“But let justice roll on like a river”) and understand that “injustices anywhere were a threat to justice everywhere”. Racial injustice in the United States is a long-term issue that must be met with the power of relationship in the knowing context of racial privilege for those who are white. We need to learn from the example of King and find ways to dialogue and wrestle and actually meet the injustice in our world head on. Second, Jesus and King held a stalwart commitment to peace. Non-violence and non-retaliation were central to the teachings of Jesus and were echoed in both the teaching and activism of King. History often de-emphasizes this side of King’s work where they would instruct other civil rights marchers to not march if they couldn’t commit to non-retaliation. King was able to see the beauty and wisdom of non-retaliation and how it exposes the injustice of the aggressor and is able to move towards breaking the cycle of violence. We, as kingdom people, are called to live out the mandate of Romans 12: 9-21 where, among other things, we are called to overcome evil with good and never take revenge. Finally, Jesus and King firmly held a commitment to love. During a sermon that King gave in 1957 he said, “In the final analysis, love is not this sentimental something that we talk about. It’s not merely an emotional something. Love is creative, understanding goodwill for all men. It is the refusal to defeat any individual. When you rise to the level of love, of its great beauty and power, you seek only to defeat evil systems. Individuals who happen to be caught up in that system, you love, but you seek to defeat the system.” King understood that the system was the problem and that the true battle in any situation was with the principalities and powers (Ephesians 6:12) so the only appropriate response to our human aggressors is love. Our job is to remember the inherent worth in all humanity and agree with Jesus that they are worth dying for.

We must fight against all systems of racial hierarchy and come alongside those on the underside of the political systems and be a presence of justice, peace and love. This is how we live out the call and example of both Jesus and King.

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Topics: Non-Violence, Peace, Reconciliation

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Focus Scripture:

  • Romans 12:9-21

    Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.

    Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are. Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” No, “if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

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One thought on “King’s Kingdom Way

  1. Mary Reyes says:

    Wow–talk about jam-packed! Thanks to you both for modeling what costly collaboration can look like. (It’s helpful to see this done as we all try to discern what is being asked of us in our own contexts.) This shared vision of being nonviolent peacemakers following Jesus’ way of cruciform love offers us a clear focus.

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