At the heart of Dr. Martin Luther’s King’s teachings is the emphasis on the sacredness of all human life. Dr. King was constantly challenging people to remember that each person they encountered—whether friend or foe—is a child of God. This excerpt from his famous “Christmas Sermon on Peace” (December 24, 1967) lays out this core principle in a beautiful way.
“The next thing we must be concerned about if we are to have peace on earth and good will toward men is the nonviolent affirmation of the sacredness of all human life. Every man is somebody because he is a child of God. . . . Man is more than a tiny vagary of whirling electrons or a wisp of smoke from a limitless smoldering. Man is a child of God, made in His image, and therefore must be respected as such. Until men see this everywhere, until nations see this everywhere, we will be fighting wars. One day somebody should remind us that, even though there may be political and ideological differences between us, the Vietnamese are our brothers, the Russians are our brothers, the Chinese are our brothers; and one day we’ve got to sit down together at the table of Brotherhood.
“But in Christ there is neither Jew nor Gentile. In Christ there is neither male nor female. In Christ there is neither Communist or capitalist, In Christ, somehow, there is neither bound nor free. We are all one in Christ Jesus. And when we truly believe in the sacredness of human personality, we won’t exploit people we won’t trample over people with the iron feet of oppression and we won’t kill anybody.
Link to more:
- For Dr. King, the Biblical concept of love, or “agape,” expresses the belief in the sacredness of life. Here is a three-minute excerpt from a sermon where he explores different meanings of the word “love.”
- The first five minutes of Dr. King’s Christmas Sermon on Peace can be found here.
For Reflection and Prayer:
- Think of someone in your life you don’t like or who is a problem for you and then remind yourself that he or she is a child of God. Does it change anything for you to think of that person in that way?
- Say a prayer that you can be more aware of the sacredness of every person you meet today.