On Sunday, April 4th, Christians around the world celebrated Easter, a day in honor of a King who gave up his crown who founded an empire based on love. The apostles, the great men of this empire, conquered the world not through violence, nor even through intellectual force, but through the power of the love that was in them, a power that allowed them to face painful martyrdom with smiles on their faces and songs in their heart.
By a strange coincidence, April 4th also marks the day of the assassination of Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. Named after another reformer who stood up to an oppressive empire (albeit one that claimed the mantle of Christ) with, at least at first, the power of love, the Reverend MLK exemplified the true power of Christ in his life. He met injustice with justice, hatred with love, vengefulness with forgiveness, and the power of the city of man with the power of the city of God. Through peace and love, he helped to heal America of one of its greatest sins — systematic racism. Most revolutionaries have used violence and hatred of the “oppressors”, and have thus either been crushed, like Spartacus, or succeeded only to replace one oppressor with a worse one, like Lenin. MLK, however, succeeded in ending the systematic racism of his day by refusing, unlike more violent and less successful reformers such as Malcolm X, to give in to the temptation of hatred. The earthly powers of his day never imagined that his nonviolence could possibly overcome their political power, no more than the Romans could have imagined that the followers of the Judean peasants they were killing would one day rule their empire, but that is the power of heaven, to turn our weakness into strength, to “[bring] down rulers from their thrones but [lift] up the humble” (Luke 1:52).
Our world is full of injustice, from the ongoing genocide against the Uighurs to the continued oppression of the Kurds. Even in the West, which has achieved a level of equality, freedom, and justice unequaled in any major civilization since the beginning of history, there is still injustice, as there always will be until Christ returns. In the meantime, while we wait, we must do our best to fulfill the divine command to “seek justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with [our] God” (Micah 6:8). But we must always remember that every true revolution is won not through the power of this world, which is hatred for those less powerful than us and envy for those more powerful, but through the power of the latter, which is compassion for the oppressed and forgiveness for the oppressor.