MLK’s conversion to Christ’s limitless love

Martin Luther King Jr.'s office

Guest in the backyard: Jarrod McKenna

A big influence on me, Lesslie Newbigin, once commented “trying to criticize ones own culture is like trying to push a bus while you are sitting in it.”

One of the reasons my new coffee coach’s (talking about you Grendel!) comments are often more penetrating than others is that he’s not sitting in the ‘Christian culture bus’. On Wednesday’s I’ll be throwing another voice that’s able to give our thinking about culture, mission and discipleship a push… Gandhi.

Martin Luther King Jr. wrote that in studying Gandhi;“My scepticism concerning the power of love gradually diminished… prior to reading Gandhi, I had about concluded that the ethics of Jesus were only effective in individual relationships… but after reading Gandhi, I saw how mistaken I was.”

Without Gandhi’s influence Dr. King would never have become one of the heros of the practicalites of ‘the weapons of love’ that transformed American’s structural racism. It is my prayer that in teaching about the life of Gandhi, Christians can go through the same conversion experience Martin Luther King Jr. did and not limit God’s love.

Gandhi at the spinning wheelAfter studying Gandhi, Dr. King was no longer willing to limit Jesus’ commandments to love God, self, neighbour and enemy to just ‘individual relationships’. No longer willing to limit God’s love and keep it just a private reality instead of permeating all of life. No longer willing to limit the Lordship of Jesus to merely the heart excluding it from the social, political and economic as well.

Through the life of this Hindu who daily meditated on and practiced the Sermon on the Mount, MLK heard a fresh Jesus say,

“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord’ and do not do what I say?” (Luke 6:46)

It is my hope and prayer that not just Christians but the world would come to see that proclaiming Jesus as Lord (our final authority) is only done when we put down our weapons and and love our enemies, feed the hungry, Fritz Eichenberg's peaceable kingdominvite in the refugee, cloth the naked, look after the sick, visit the imprisoned and be prepared not to compromise on what Martin Luther King called “the power of love” as we seek to transform the Powers to serve the humanising purposes of God. Even if it means going the way of the cross, trusting only in resurrection power.


  • So I invite you once a week to join me on a prayerful journey with a thin, bald,toothless, five foot tall, leader who changed the world as we listen to his thoughts and quotes on Jesus and Christianity. “Wednesday’s with Gandhi”.

13 thoughts on “MLK’s conversion to Christ’s limitless love

  1. This morning I am drinking a blend from Fiori (a local Perth roaster) which is made up of beans from Honduras, Brazil and Ethiopa. Each of the coffees in the blend is fairly traded – and then some. It is often though, a real challenge to find a coffee that is a truly great coffee while ensuring that the production of the coffee adhered to principles of sustainability. Doing the right thing is sometimes (often/usually?) harder, than not thinking about it at all.

    I got off the ‘Christian Culture Bus’ some years ago, but that does not mean that I do not value my experiences growing up, or the continuing contribution I see many Christians making in the world.

    I think the message of Christ is quite amazing – as did Gandhi, and I am looking forward to hearing more from you about this.

  2. hmmm i may still be on that bus – but i don’t think i’m blinded by it – maybe a little like a bus tour, you’re on the bus and enjoy parts of the ride, but get off frequently to stretch your legs

  3. Thr trouble with being on the bus is that if you get off to stretch your legs and admire the view for too long then the bus might drive off without you – better to take the tour yourself I think.

  4. “I think the message of Christ is quite amazing – as did Gandhi, and I am looking forward to hearing more from you about this.”

    Hey Grendel, Haven’t you made a Jesus after your own image, enjoy the bits you like, flick the bits you don’t …is that fair to Jesus?


  5. Jarrod

    Good. I am glad that you are doing this. I am looking forward to hearing more from you about Ghandi.

    And as for the bus you lot? You get off one only to get on another. Careful lest we fail to notice the log in our own eye. The world out there is only a reflection of the world in our own hearts.


  6. I can tell already this is going to be fun. 🙂

    Maybe the chanllenge Gandhi brings us Christian’s is checking if we’ve made Christ into our image instead of letting the Holy Spirit transform us into his. Maybe that’s why Christian have also (more so?) found it so easy to “enjoy the bits [we] like, flick the bits [we] don’t” (like living the Sermon on the Mount which Gandhi said was central to his revolution in India.)

  7. I hope I can be on the bus like Rosa Parks was. Breaking the unjust rules so the bus can be what God longs for it to be. 🙂

    The first ‘Wednesday with Gandhi’ I think will happen tomorrow some time… just to mix it up. 🙂

  8. Ghandi still died a Hindu…

    …which I presume means he rejected the Lordship of Jesus.(God is his judge and not me) He liked Christian values (Sermon on the Mount) but refused to love God with heart, soul, mind and strength. Ghandi affirmed the second great commandment but not the first. I think Ghandi was an Aussie. The average Aussie thinks like that too (if there is such a thing as an average Aussie) Christian values: yes! Relationship with the Saviour: No Thanks I am fine where I am !

    That’s something to chew over anyway

    I am with Ghandi on revolution through non-violence though….

    Honest disagreement is often a good sign of progress.

    Mahatma Gandhi

    I believe in equality for everyone, except reporters and photographers.

    Mahatma Gandhi

    I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent.

    Mahatma Gandhi


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