25 Jul Sermon Snap Shot July 21, 2019
Surely Romans 12 was one of those passages that greatly influenced MLK’s emphasis on the need for Christians to practice non-violence. But, surprisingly, he may have never reached his depth of conviction were it not for the teachings and example of a non-Christian, Mahatma Gandhi, the great Indian reformer most responsible for his country eventually gaining independence from Great Britain in 1947. Sadly, Gandhi was assassinated just a few months later.
There is evidence that King spent much time studying Gandhi’s story and philosophy while in undergrad and in seminary. Ironically, he found in Gandhi, a Hindu, someone who put Jesus’ teachings into practice in the most profound way. He described Gandhi like this:
“Gandhi was probably the first person in history to live the love ethic of Jesus above mere interaction between individuals to a powerful and effective social force on a larger scale. Love for Gandhi was a potent instrument for social and collective transformation.”
There were two primary pillar’s to Gandhi’s approach, his philosophy for social change. The first was the concept of satyagraha. The word satyagraha can be translated “truth-force” or “soul-force” and has generally come to mean the effort to improve social conditions through the use of truth-force (non-violent resistance) rather than physical force. Truth-force for Gandhi was far from passive resistance. It was an active, powerful way of resisting that required great bravery and strength.
The second was the concept of ahimsa. Ahimsa includes the refusal to (1) do harm to your opponent and (2) to violate another person’s essence. As such, ahimsa challenges those seeking to practice satyagraha to always respect the truth and humanity of their opponent. In many ways, ahimsa for Gandhi was similar to King’s understanding and practice of Agape love.
King incorporated both of these pillars into his vision for creating and growing the Beloved Community.
From Sunday, July 21 message based on Romans 12:9-21, “Beloved Community: Essential Practices for Growth #3 – Practicing Non-Violence”
Pastor, Waters Edge UMC