“Thank God for what we have left!” ~ Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Sr.
As the holidays are upon us, let us be mindful that these next few weeks are beautiful opportunities to express love, grace, encouragement and peace towards others. There are some people, and in some cases someone we know, or even we ourselves are in dire need of a prayer or two this holiday season. Some have lost loved ones and some have lost much to tragedies. Yet there are reasons and opportunities to spread love to others right now. A notion such as this may seem difficult, especially with the brutal mid-terms behind us, and some political runoff elections ahead of us; but let’s just try to be civil toward one another.
The concept of civility springs from the word civilis, which in Latin means “citizen.” Civility is impacted by a person’s emotions or lack thereof. If a person is emotionally affected by the negative feedback that they get from other people and react in a psychologically normal manner, then they are defined as civil.
In my everyday circles at home with family, at church, at work and in the communities at large, I work hard to keep the commandment to “love one another.” Another helpful process, which I learned from the “King Family Legacy Code of Nonviolence,” is to communicate differences in a civil manner with the expectation of a “win-win” outcome. Around Thanksgiving Season, I begin to half-jokingly say: “Don’t be guilty of ripping the leg off the turkey” and beating up others with it. I only say half-jokingly because so many families are divided these days. I know the Bible teaches that relatives will rise up to disagree with others, but does this have to happen in our families?
During the holiday season, there will be plenty of good food to go around. In addition to spending time with family and friends, ministry always joins in efforts to feed the hungry. Then, for the rest of the day, our family makes the rounds from house to house, delivering delicious dishes and good cheer. All of this is good; but without Agape Love at the tables, something is missing. Along with genuine Agape Love, another addition to the meals and festivities should be a “spiritual fruit bowl.”
Galatians 5:22-23 New International Version (NIV)
“22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”
Holidays should not be the only time we practice this behavior. We should always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks us to give the reason for the hope that we have. But we must do so with gentleness and respect. Example: Rather than just using our lovely “Jesus is the Reason for The Season,” theme, let’s be ready with some genuine and transparent sayings that explain why we are thankful and why we are looking forward to Christmas.
We need to interact with both Christians and non-Christians in a respectful way. Jesus did. In John 4, as Jesus talked to the Samaritan woman at the well, Jesus associated with someone who was far from acceptable in Jewish society, and while He fully told her the truth, He did so in a kind, compassionate, and redemptive manner. As apologists we too need to speak truth boldly in the public square, but we need to do so as Christ’s representatives, bearing the fruit of His Spirit (Gal. 5:22–26). This means refraining from insults, name-calling, and excoriation not only in theological discourse but also in political diatribes.
Actually, as Christians, we should not even be involved in political debates and any mean spirited activities – not at Thanksgiving, not at Christmas, not ever. We would be better served to be praying for all of our leaders, and also voting for government God’s way. So, while we are baking the turkeys and wrapping the gifts and all of the beautiful activities ahead of us, let us pray. Please click HERE and HERE for 2 Alveda King Holiday videos.
Alveda King, niece of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., is the founder of King for America, Inc., consultant to the Africa Humanitarian Christian Fellowship and Pastoral Associate and Director of African-American Outreach for Priests for Life and Gospel of Life Ministries.
By Alveda King