Remembering John Lewis



John Lewis, who died Friday, July 17, had connections to both Alabama and Georgia. He was born in Troy, Ala., and represented Georgia’s 5th district in the U. S. House of Representatives for more than 30 years. In the coming days, many will share much about this icon of the civil rights movement. I hope it will be remembered that he was a Christian who sought to be faithful to Christ by living out a commitment to non-violence in human relationships. 

This is remarkable when you consider that Lewis had many experiences in which he was knocked down, beaten, kicked, and insulted. Non-violence is not an easy way of life, but the Cross of Christ teaches us that it can be a powerful way of life. It is not easy to be a leader of a movement and refrain from violence when others in the movement are insisting on the use of violence.

I was in college in the 1960s and saw different responses to the Vietnam War. Some marched in peaceful protest. Others expressed their support for our soldiers who were thrust into that conflict. But then there were those who engaged in rioting, looting, and burning buildings. This kind of violence seems to happen in every time period no matter what the issue. 

There are those who speak up and get involved and challenge the way things are without becoming what they say they oppose. And then there are those who act in ways that increase the level of violence in the land. 

John Lewis and others like him remind us that we each have a choice in how we behave in every situation every day. I hope it will be noted that, through Christ, John Lewis made that choice as a teenager and then lived it for the rest of his life by doing justice, loving mercy, and walking humbly with God.  

Do not envy the violent and do not choose any of their ways. Proverbs 3:31