Someone Has to Dim The Lights. (Martin Luther King Jr. reblog)

I share this in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. (January 16, 2023)
Additional thoughts shared by Matt Adair

In a sermon preached on November 17, 1957 in the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, AL, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. shares a story. On a night drive between Chattanooga, TN and Atlanta, Dr. King and his brother experienced a string of “discourteous” drivers. As their car passed others along narrow roads, these other drivers either forgot or refused to dim their lights. Exasperated, Dr. King’s brother declared that the next car that didn’t dim their lights was going to receive the same treatment. “I’m going to fail to dim [my lights] and pour them on in all of their power.” Quickly assessing the possibilities, Dr. King replied that doing so would only make things worse. “Somebody got to have some sense on this highway.

Someone has to dim the lights. 

The words of this text glitter in our eyes with a new urgency. Far from being the pious injunction of a utopian dreamer, this command is an absolute necessity for the survival of our civilization. Yes, it is love that will save our world and our civilization, love even for enemies.

Someone has to dim the lights. 

The message focuses on three critical questions: 1) what it means to love; 2) how to love our enemies, and 3) why we should love our enemies.

Again, I believe it’s worth 30 minutes of your time to read and/or listen to Dr. King in his own words. But I’ll summarize his description of how and why we love our enemies to help focus our energy on making disciples who live this way.

How We Love Our Enemies:

  • We evaluate ourselves. What might we be doing that causes people to hate us?
  • We seek-and-find the good in our enemy. Then we focus our attention on what we’ve found.
  • We work for their welfare, not their downfall. We might not like them. But we must love them.

Why We Love Our Enemies:

  • Someone has to dim the lights. “Hate for hate only intensifies the existence of hate and evil in the universe. Somebody must have the sense enough and morality enough to cut off the chain of hate and the chain of evil in the universe. And you do that by love.”
  • Hate distorts the personality of the hater. “For the person who hates, the beautiful becomes ugly and the ugly becomes beautiful. For the person who hates, the good becomes bad and the bad becomes good. For the person who hates, the true becomes false and the false becomes true.”
  • Love is redemptive. “…if you hate your enemies, you have no way to redeem and to transform your enemies. But if you love your enemies, you will discover that at the very root of love is the power of redemption…There’s something above love that builds up and is creative. There is something about hate that tears down and is destructive. ‘Love your enemies.'”

Someone has to dim the lights.

Dr. King’s message reminds us that nothing matters more in our churches than making disciples that love their enemies. Here’s his close:

There is a little tree planted on a little hill and on that tree hangs the most influential character that ever came in this world. But never feel that that tree is a meaningless drama that took place on the stages of history. Oh no, it is a telescope through which we look out into the long vista of eternity, and see the love of God breaking forth into time. It is an eternal reminder that love is the only way…So this morning, as I look into your eyes, and into the eyes of all my brothers in Alabama and all over America and over the world, I say to you, “I love you. I would rather die than hate you.” And I’m foolish enough to believe that through the power of this love somewhere, men of the most recalcitrant bent will be transformed.

Make Disciples. 

Make Disciples Who Become Like Jesus.

Make Disciples Who Love Like Jesus.

Make Disciples Who Love Their Enemies.

Someone has to dim the lights.

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