“I have decided to stick with love.”

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.” Of all people, those involved in the civil rights movement of the 60s could have justifiably chosen hate. Dr. King was arrested 29 times just for clinging to the rights guaranteed to all under the constitution. Rep. John Lewis, who passed away last week from pancreatic cancer, suffered a fractured skull after being struck by a billy club for leading a march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama in 1965. When asked about the riots and looting occurring across the country last June, Lewis quoted Dr. King saying, “I still choose love rather than hate. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”
 
To choose love over hate is a radical and counter-cultural move, but the choice to love is also biblical and Christian. In His sermon on the mount, Jesus instructed his disciples to “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rains on the just and the unjust.”
 
To choose love over hate is to prove to be of a different nature—a new creature born again of God’s spirit. Love is how the Christian sets himself apart from non-believers. Jesus said, “For if you love those who love you, do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?”
 
Love is not the passive choice. On the contrary, love is the revolutionary choice. Love tears down strongholds. The Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 12:20, “‘ if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by doing so you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome with evil but overcome evil with good.” Evil can only be overcome with love.

Love is the vehicle the Lord Jesus used to overcome the evil of mankind. When we rebelled against him, indeed, when we killed Him, Jesus was patient. When we were His enemy, He fed us. When we were thirsty, He gave us a drink. He did not repay our evil with evil; instead, He answered our evil with sacrificial love and kindness. He gave us grace meant to lead us to repentance (cf. Romans 2:1-5).
 
The love of Christ tore down the dividing wall of hostility between us and the Father. How vast was the gulf between sinful man and a holy God? Yet the love of Christ was powerful to reconcile the two. His love even healed the horizontal divide between us and our brothers and sisters in Christ (Eph 2:11-22). He joined all those who believed and were born again into one body (cf. 1 Cor 12). No more powerful force exists in the world when compared to the love of Christ.
 
When we choose love over hate, we desire life over death. Love brings life. Hate brings destruction and pain, and death. The end that hate brings is what makes hatred too great a burden to bear.
 
When we choose love over hate, we desire light over darkness. Love brings light, and light evokes hope to those living in the darkness. Hate only drives the hater and the hated deeper into the darkness where Satan waits like a roaring lion to devour them both.
 
When we choose love over hate, we desire freedom over bondage. Hate has enslaved our ancestors since their fall from grace in the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit out of hatred for their Creator and a desire to overthrow Him. Murderous hate seized Cain when he saw that God favored Abel’s offering. Throughout history, we’ve seen how hate enslaves, but we learned how love sets us free through Christ. His love released us from the heavy chains of hatred for God and others.
 

Brothers and sisters let us choose love because hate is much too great a burden to bear. Let us choose to turn the other cheek. Let us decide to go the extra mile. Let us do to others as we would have them do to us. Let us be merciful as our Heavenly Father is merciful. The reward for love is enormous, and through love, we prove to be sons and daughters of the Most High God.