Scripture: Matthew 28:16-20; 1John 4:7-9
Our summer sermon series is called Sans Pareil: Without Equal. When something or someone is said to be sans pareil, it means they are literally the best in the world or that they are a class above the rest. Each week will be looking at two people who are the best in their field. In our last sermon, we examined two of the best athletes to ever live. This week we are examining two of the greatest orators in the history of humanity—Marcus Tullius Cicero and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Cicero was born in Italy in 106 B.C. Cicero proved himself to be an extremely talented student. He learned how to speak both Latin and Greek and was educated in the teachings of the ancient Greek philosophers, poets and historians. But perhaps the most important aspect of his education was his training in rhetoric, which is the art of creating persuasive arguments. Rhetoric is one of the three ancient arts of discourse, along with grammar and logic. The art of rhetoric was not just about being a good speaker, but taking people who completely disagree with you and converting them over to your side. Cicero is considered to be one of best rhetoricians of all time.
Martin Luther King, Jr., during his time in seminary, began studying Greek and Latin. This is when King first encountered the work of Cicero and began studying his style of oration. Indeed, King would adopt some of Cicero’s stylistic choices when making sermons and speech’s during the Civil Rights Movement. Wherever he went, King’s amazing oratory ability was able to inspire people to sacrifice for the cause. Nobody could get people to protests and marches like King could and that’s because of the power of his words.
Nothing exhibits King's power more than his speech in August of 1963, where King spoke at the March on Washington. Prior to that speech, the movement was losing steam. People were tired from protesting and it felt like nothing was ever going to change. But after King’s speech, the movement gained new momentum, which culminated in the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
That’s the power of the spoken word. The words you speak matter because they are constantly shaping our world. Words can break people down or build them up. Words can enjoin people to your cause or motivate them to work against you. Words can inspire people to completely change their lives or remain exactly as they are. In this way, the right words spoken at the right time have the potential to transform our society in ways that almost nothing else can.
This Sunday we are going to discuss how the power of your words can change the world. When you speak about God’s love, you open the door to make that world a possibility. I hope you’ve been enjoying this beautiful weather. This is what we dream of in Chicago all winter. Don’t miss out!