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home : religion : inspirational reflections January 20, 2018

1/14/2018 12:11:00 AM
The Soul Force Of Christ
Charles R. Swindoll — 'Life is  10% what happens to you and  90% how you react to it.'

Charles R. Swindoll — 'Life is 
10% what happens to you and 
90% how you react to it.'


Rev. Susan Smith Walker
Emanuel Reformed Church


How can we celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.? Let us remember that he was a Baptist preacher who lived the gospel in a way few have ever done. Consider these words of Jesus from Matthew 5:43-48:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”



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In this passage the root word for love is “agapao”, which translates as moral or social unselfish compassion. This term occurs seven times in Matthew, and 140 times in the New Testament. Unselfish compassion is one of the most important spiritual principles in the gospel of Jesus Christ, and it compels us to love our enemies. Consider these words of Dr. King and how he made this well known passage of scripture live for today during the Civil Rights movement of the 1960’s.

“I’ve seen too much hate to want to hate myself, and every time I see it, I say to myself hate is too great a burden to bear. Somehow we must be able to stand up against our most bitter opponents and say: “We shall match your capacity to inflict suffering by our capacity to endure suffering. We will meet your physical force with soul force. Do to us what you will and we will still love you. We cannot in all good conscience obey your unjust laws and abide by the unjust system, because non-cooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation with good, so throw us in jail and we will still love you. Bomb our homes and threaten our children, and, as difficult as it is, we will still love you. Send your hooded perpetrators of violence into our communities at the midnight hour, drag us out on some wayside road and leave us half dead as you beat us, and we will still love you. Send your propaganda agents around the country and make it appear we are not fit, culturally and otherwise, for integration, but we’ll still love you. But be assured we will wear you down by our capacity to suffer, and one day we will win our freedom. We will not only win freedom for ourselves; we will appeal to your heart and conscience that we will win you in the process and our victory will be a double victory.

Jesus and Dr. King didn’t just talk about loving their enemies. They showed us it can be done with the spiritual power of Christ acting as the “soul force” in their life. Jesus loved his enemies all the way to the cross. Agapao love was the soul force that nailed him there to save humanity and reconcile us to God. The soul force of Christ was with Dr. King in the civil rights movement and helped him to show agapao love to his enemies to the very end. Just like Jesus, Dr. King knew he would have to sacrifice his life for the gospel because in Christ all are one and equally valuable to God. The night before he was assassinated he spoke these words in response to threats on his life from his enemies.

Well, I don't know what will happen now. We've got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn't matter with me now, because I've been to the mountaintop. And I don't mind. Like anybody, I would like to live - a long life; longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land. So I'm happy, tonight. I'm not worried about anything. I'm not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.[1]

Dr. King was gunned down the next day on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis Tennessee, but his example of the soul force of Christ changed the world. It lives on today as people of all races come together in peace to remember him. Let the soul force of Jesus Christ live in us today so that we can love our enemies in this polarized and divided world as he did.

Rev. Walker is the pastor of Emanuel Reformed Church www.emanuelreformedchurch.com.


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