Here at the end of Black History Month, it is important to recognize Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.’s contributions to the pursuit of peace. “I will listen to what God the LORD says; he promises peace to his people, his faithful servants— but let them not turn to folly.” -Psalm 85:8. Refusing to engage in folly led MLK to observe that:
“The means we use must be as pure as the ends we seek” (“Letters from Birmingham Jail”).
MLK was born in 1929 and was assassinated in 1968. Known for nonviolent protest of injustice, this Baptist preacher demonstrated the immense spiritual strength necessary for man to pursue peace without descending into the folly of so many weaker men. In 1963, he was jailed for directly disobeying an injunction against protests in Birmingham, Alabama.
“One may well ask: ‘How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?’ The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws” (“Letters from Birmingham Jail”).
Why is justice a necessary component of peace? Think about it!
Had God extended forgiveness, to the human race,
Not eradicating the evil, we choose to embrace,
Then a harmony could be had, between God and man,
But God would be ugly accomplice, leaving humans damned!
However, God maintains a commitment to the eradication of evil, “for the wages of sin is death” (Romans 3:23a), but “God loved the world so much that He sent His only begotten Son, that whosoever should believe in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.” (John 3:16-17) Jesus’ substitutionary death does not negate the fact that the “wages of sin are death.”
In God’s eyes, justice is a necessary component of peace, and Martin Luther King Jr. believed this strongly enough to act accordingly.