Top

from “Paul’s Letter to American Christians” by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Written by Mark Van Steenwyk : January 15, 2007

I still believe that love is the most durable power in the world. Over the centuries men have sought to discover the highest good. This has been the chief quest of ethical philosophy. This was one of the big questions of Greek philosophy. The Epicureans and the stoics sought to answer it; Plato and Aristotle sought to answer it. What is the summum bonum of life? I think I have an answer, America. I think I have discovered the highest good. It is love. This principle stands at the center of the cosmos. As John says, “God is love”. He who loves is a participant in the being of God. He who hates does not know God. Martin Luther KingSo, you may master the intricacies of the English language. You may possess all of the eloquence of speech. But even of you “speak with the tongues of man and angels, and have not love, you are become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal”.

You may have the gift of prophecy and understanding [of] all mysteries. You may be able to break into the storehouse of nature and bring out many insights that men never dreamed were there. You may ascend to the heights of academic achievement, so that you will have all knowledge. You may boast of your great institutions of learning and the boundless extent of your degrees. But all of this amounts to absolutely nothing devoid of love.

But even more, Americans, you may give your goods to feed the poor. You may give great gifts to charity. You may tower high in philanthropy. But if you have not love it means nothing. You may even give your body to be burned, and die the death of a martyr. Your spilt blood may be a symbol of honor for generations yet unborn, and thousands may praise you as history’s supreme hero. But even so, if you have not love your blood was spilt in vain. You must come to see that it is possible for a man to be self-centered in his self-denial and self-righteous in his self-sacrifice. He may be generous in order to feed his ego and pious in order to feed his pride. Man has the tragic capacity to relegate a heightening virtue to a tragic vice. Without love benevolence becomes egotism, and martyrdom becomes spiritual pride.

So the greatest of virtues is love. It is here that we find the true meaning of the Christian faith. This is at the bottom of the meaning of the cross. The great event on Calvary signifies more than a meaningless drama that took place on the stage of history. It is a telescope through which we look out into the long vista of eternity and see the love of God breaking forth into time. It is an eternal reminder to a power-drunk generation that love is [the] most durable power in the world, and that it is at bottom the heartbeat of the moral cosmos. Only through achieving this love can you expect to matriculate into the university of eternal life.’

for further reading . . .

  • None Found

Comments

Bottom