A Lesson From Dr. King On Responding to Injustice With Love - Finds.Life.Church

A Lesson From Dr. King On Responding to Injustice With Love

by Tavares Johnson

I wrote a civil rights report while I was in high school. Because of my Black heritage, it was more than just another assignment. I decided to write about a talk I once had with my grandmother, Curlee Johnson, who was born in 1900 and lived until 1993. She had literally lived through every major event in our recent history. When I asked about her memories of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., anyone could’ve seen that sparkle in her eye.

As she began talking about Dr. King, I was transported to a time I’d only read about. I respected anyone who’d fought for equal rights, and I knew the history. Yet, as I listened to my grandmother, I started to feel the pain of the hate and persecution which marked that time. As a young Black man, I honestly didn’t know how to cope with what she had walked through. I was offended, hurt, and confused. She was one of the most loving people I’ve ever known. Why would she have to fight to be loved back? This same lady who would just give random people walking down the street a good home-cooked meal couldn’t eat in the same restaurant as people who looked a little different. As she was talking, she suddenly stopped and I felt something change about the room.

She looked at me right in the face and said, “Tavares Johnson, I went through all this so you and our family didn’t have to.” I want you to clearly understand this. Dr. King and many others walked a path so that we didn’t have to. With her eyes on mine, she went on, “I tell you all of this not so that you relive my pain. I tell you this so that you can live.”

Watch my Pastor, Craig Groeschel, talk about what Christians should do about racism.

Never have words sunk so deep into my heart and soul. Her pain, frustration, and will to see a new day, and that of all of those who walked before me was suddenly completely real to me. Then, as if to sum it all up, she said, “Remember that love is love. Hate and love do not work together.”

I immediately thought of this quote from Dr. King.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 

Then there’s today. With everything going on in our world, I sometimes still wonder if what was done in the past really matters. Why does racism and other social injustice live on? Did my grandmother’s freedom fighting mean anything? Did she really pave a path? You know what I always come back to? As a young Black man in today’s world, I get to decide how I will live because of people like my grandma and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. But it’s not just me. All of us in every color have a choice. Some of us need to build bridges. Others need to repair them, and still others need to blaze completely new paths.

This conversation with my grandmother was one of the last times we spoke before she passed away. Her parting words were, “Tavares, the most important thing you need to remember is that in life you will face challenges. How you respond to those challenges is more important than you know. Love God and be the young man that you know you should be.” I started to realize my grandma’s words often sounded a lot like Dr. King’s.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 

And together, their words remind me of 1 Corinthians 13:12-13 MSG:

We don’t yet see things clearly. Were squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it wont be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! Well see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!

But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.

So what about you? Do you know and understand your purpose? How are you choosing to respond to the fog of our time? Like my grandmother and Dr. King, Jesus went before us so that we can live. So trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, and love extravagantly! The greatest thing you can do is love. I will keep walking this path so that like Dr. King did for Black people, like my grandmother did for me, like Jesus did for all of us, I can make a way for my two little girls.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 

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