Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. explained why nonviolent protests could defeat injustice: He said nonviolence is physically passive but spiritually active. It does not seek to defeat or humiliate the opponent but to win him over. The goal is to create a beloved community. Nonviolence is directed at evil, not at people who are acting evil; it’s a struggle between justice and injustice. Then he said nonviolence demonstrates agape–love that does not depend on the merit of the person receiving it; it reflects God’s love who hates evil in us but still loves us. Fighting injustice this way is what Jesus taught. We read this in Matthew Chapter 5, “You have heard the law that says the punishment must match the injury: ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say, do not resist an evil person! If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also. ‘You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven.’” So today, true followers of Jesus Christ are called to protest injustice, yes; but to do it in a way that seeks to build a beloved community.
Dr. Melvin E. Banks, Sr. is the founder and chairman of UMI (Urban Ministries, Inc.). Under his direction, UMI has grown to be a leading publisher of Christian education resources for churches in the African American community. Read More