A message from Bishop Fairley on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
posted on January 16
“But strive for the greater gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way.” - I Corinthians 12:31
“So the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate or for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice or for the extension of justice?” - Martin Luther King Jr.
The word “extremism” automatically generates negative connotations. When we think of extremists, especially in today’s world, we think of people and/or groups who hold ideologies that are deemed dangerous or hateful, leading to the kind of violence and injustice that have become so pervasive and prevalent. However, what if we practiced the kind of radical extremism that Jesus practiced, specifically in regards to love, peace, and justice?
I encourage each of us to model this form of extremism, especially in our present context. Practice new ways to extend our table, to choose love, not hate; unity, not division. Seek new ways to dismantle the racist, sexist and economic oppression threatening our journey toward the Christian Beloved Community that is rooted in the redemptive work of Jesus Christ.
In this season of pandemic, I hope you will join me in celebrating the birthday and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. by reflecting on the following questions:
What would my life look like if I practiced Christ-like extremism?
What would my family life look like if I/we practiced Christ-like extremism?
What would my local church look like if we practiced Christ-like extremism?
What would our community, our nation, and the world look like if we practiced Christ-like extremism?
Consider reaching out to someone virtually, or where possible, in person (socially distanced and masked up), who sees things differently than you and enter into Christian, Christ-like, dialogue with them. Have this same kind of dialogue in your local church.
Let me close by encouraging you to do a good deed in honor of this day, requesting that it be paid forward and remembering that, as King said, “The time is always right to do right.”