MLK Jr. quote about loving enemies

This is an excerpt from a sermon by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. which I heard in a sermon by Tim Keller. The Keller sermon is called "The Healing of Anger."

Jesus said "Love your enemies, that you may be children of your Father, which is in heaven."

Of course, you say, all this about loving enemies is not practical. Life is a matter of getting even, of hitting back, of dog eat dog. Well, maybe in some distant utopia the idea will work, but not in the hard, cold world in which we live.

My friends, we have followed the so-called practical way for a long time now. Time is cluttered with the wreckage of communities which surrendered into the hatred and violence. We are going to follow another way.

We will not abandon our righteous efforts. With every ounce of our strength, we will continue to rid the nation of the incubus of segregation, but we will not in the process relinquish our privilege and our obligation to love.While abhorring segregation, we will love the segregationist.

This is the only way to build the beloved community. To our most bitter opponents, we say we shall meet your physical force with soul force. Do to us what you will, and we will continue to love you. We cannot obey your unjust laws, because non-cooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as it is to cooperate with good.

But throw us in jail, we will still love you. Send your hooded perpetrators of violence into our community and beat us, and we will still love. But be assured that we will wear you down. One day, we will win freedom, but not only for ourselves, but we will so appeal to your heart and conscience that we will win you in the process, and so our victory will be a double victory. 

The great military leaders of the past have gone, and their empires have crumbled and burned to ashes, but the empire of Jesus, built solidly and majestically on the foundation of love, is still growing. May we solemnly realize we shall never be sons of our heavenly Father until we love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us as he did for us.