Power and Love


Yesterday morning I attended a church that celebrated “MLK Sunday.” It was unlike any service I’d been to before.


The pastor ceded the floor to racial minorities to tell their stories. To talk about the dream unfinished. How the world is still against them on the cultural, structural and institutional levels. We often mistakenly assume that racism is dead, it’s not.


One woman, a lawyer who has committed her life to racial and economic justice, spoke on power and love. The two forces needed to enact real change. I was utterly captivated by her grace, her conviction, her story. She motivated me to be better. To start seeing this more. To do more. To be an accountable friend in the faith and the community.


She played an audio excerpt of a Dr. King sermon and I was just so startled by the truth of it, that I knew I must share it here today.

You see, what happened is that some of our philosophers got off base. And one of the great problems of history is that the concepts of love and power have usually been contrasted as opposites, polar opposites, so that love is identified with a resignation of power, and power with a denial of love. It was this misinterpretation that caused the philosopher Nietzsche, who was a philosopher of the will to power, to reject the Christian concept of love. It was this same misinterpretation which induced Christian theologians to reject Nietzsche’s philosophy of the will to power in the name of the Christian idea of love. 

Now, we got to get this thing right. What is needed is a realization that power without love is reckless and abusive, and that love without power is sentimental and anemic. (Yes) Power at its best [applause], power at its best is love (Yes) implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is love correcting everything that stands against love.