This is an excerpt from Martin Luther King Jr’s Letter from Birmingham Jail (April 1963).
Was not Jesus an extremist for love — “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, pray for them that despitefully use you.”
Was not Amos an extremist for justice — “Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.”
Was not Paul an extremist for the gospel of Jesus Christ — “I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.”
Was not Martin Luther an extremist — “Here I stand; I can do none other so help me God.”
Was not John Bunyan an extremist — “I will stay in jail to the end of my days before I make a butchery of my conscience.”
Was not Abraham Lincoln an extremist — “This nation cannot survive half slave and half free.”
Was not Thomas Jefferson an extremist — “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”
So the question is not whether we will be extremist but what kind of extremist will we be. Will we be extremists for hate or will we be extremists for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice–or will we be extremists for the cause of justice?
In that dramatic scene on Calvary’s hill, three men were crucified. We must not forget that all three were crucified for the same crime–the crime of extremism. Two were extremists for immorality, and thusly fell below their environment.
The other, Jesus Christ, was an extremist for love, truth and goodness, and thereby rose above his environment.