In his book, Strength to Love, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King writes about the bold courage and strength that Jesus is trying to call us to in the Sermon on the Mount. Nonviolent resistance is not timid cowardice. Indeed, it may be the most courageous position we can take. Dr. King writes:
We shall match your capacity to inflict suffering. We shall meet your physical force with soul force. Do to us what you will, and we shall continue to love you. Throw us in jail, and we shall still love you. Bomb our homes and threaten our children, and we shall still love you. Send your hooded perpetrators of violence into our community at the midnight hour and beat us and leave us half dead, and we shall still love you. But be assured that we will wear you down by our capacity to suffer. One day we shall win freedom, but not only for ourselves. We shall so appeal to your heart and conscience that we shall win you in the process, and our victory will be a double victory.
This “soul force” is what Jesus is trying to teach us. When we faithfully and fearlessly live into the vision of God by doing justice, loving kindness, and walking humbly, we can expect grace to transform not only our own souls but also those we thought didn’t deserve God’s grace.
So, unless you are participating in Moral Mondays in the South, you may think you have no opportunity to practice the teachings of Jesus, King, and Gandhi. I’d like to invite you to join me in looking diligently this week for ways we, too, can practice “soul force” when we might be tempted to use the power of our position and privilege.
by Michael Piazza
Center for Progressive Renewal