Tomorrow we celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the impact he made on the cause of justice for our country. Dr. King’s legacy as a social action and civil rights leader is so well established that it is easy to overlook his contributions as a theologian and pastor.
In one of his most famous sayings he noted: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” It is a powerful reminder of an ancient Christian teaching to counter evil with good, and of an ancient Christian calling: to be a light to the nations.
It is easy to get overwhelmed by the darkness present in our world—hatred, ignorance, violence, oppression, injustice—and it is tempting to want to retreat inward, to find hideouts away from all the problems of the world. But just as the Children of Israel were led out of Egypt not to a remote island but to a land at the crossroads of the world, we, too, are sent out into the world with all its troubles and conflicts. And just as they were called by the prophet in the midst of Exile to be a light, so, too, are we called to be a light to the nations.
Darkness cannot drive out darkness; hate cannot drive out hate. But if we can live into our calling to be that light to the nations, then we will hasten the driving out of the darkness and hate, and the triumph of love and light.
Rev. Mark Schaefer, Pastor