To my family and the rest of the nation in the 1960s, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King was a sign of hope. In a 47-minute keynote address at a Luther League Convention in 1961, an event sponsored by the American Lutheran Church for Lutheran youth, King spoke about three kinds of love described in the Greek language: eros (sexual feelings of romance); phileo (friendships and relationships); and agape: (the deepest kind of love based on doing good things for another person).
In that speech, King called agape the love of God operating in the human heart. “Love is the most durable power in all the world, and it is through love that we will solve this problem that is destroying our nation and the nations of the world,” he said.
Many in the African American community who knew King well called him the “love doctor.” He banned all weapons and any form of retaliation. When his bodyguards asked him how they would protect him with no guns, he answered, “With love.”
Love takes work
We rarely reflect on this mantra of King because it is much easier to rest in the comfort of a dream, but this love thing takes work. Love has everything to do with how people of faith become the difference they want to see.
Today, as we honor Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, I ask you to think about what love and community mean to you. Take a moment to research and reflect on King’s quotes on love. Start a conversation to talk about violence, gun laws, and how your faith community can make a difference.
“Everybody can be great because everybody can serve,” King said. President Obama years ago urged America to use this national holiday as a day of service. How might you serve with love today?