Text: I Corinthians 8:1-13
On the morning of October 14, 1964, Martin Luther King, sleeping in an Atlanta hospital room after checking in for a rest, was awakened by a phone call from his wife, Coretta Scott King, telling him that he had been awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace. Although many in the United States and abroad praised the selection, segregationist Eugene “Bull” Connor called it “scraping the bottom of the barrel.” Presenting the award to Dr. King in Oslo, Norway, that December, the chairman of the Nobel Committee praised Dr. King for being “the first person in the Western world to have shown us that a struggle can be waged without violence. His is the first to make the message of brotherly love a reality in the course of his struggle, and he has brought this message to all men, to all nations and races.”
In his speech accepting the award, Dr. King said, “We’ve been in the mountain of war. We’ve been in the mountain of violence. We’ve been in the mountain of hatred long enough. It is necessary to move on now, but only by moving out of this mountain can we move to the promised land of justice and brotherhood and the Kingdom of God. It all boils down to the fact that we must never allow ourselves to become satisfied with unattained goals. We must always maintain a kind of divine discontent.”
I want to use Dr. King’s words this morning to talk with you for a few minutes about peace. And in so doing, I want to talk about the idols of peace that I believe we have created, at least in the Western world, and how those idols are actually keeping us from realizing the ideals of peace.
When it comes to the great architects of peace—Jesus, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Mother Teresa, Tolstoy—if you read their writings you will find that they all have one thing in common. They all believed in the possibility of a world where there was the absence of violence. Not the absence of conflict. Not the absence of difference or difficulty. But the absence of violence. It was an ideal that they held as a conviction from their faith traditions and an ideal that they were willing to sacrifice their bodies and their very lives for.