Thermometers or Thermostats

     In April 1963, the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote his ‘Letter from Birmingham Jail.’ As a pastor – who put his faith into action – he wrote these words, “The early Christians rejoiced when they were deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed. In those days the Church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society.” MLK was not advocating a martyr complex for people of faith, but he was advocating that people of faith can be active agents of positive change.


     A thermometer is a passive agent that merely reflects the environment. A thermostat is an active agent that works toward changing the environment. A properly adjusted thermostat can activate the HVAC (heating, ventilating, and air conditioning) system to change an environment and then maintain it’s healthy viability.


     We are called to be agents of positive change – in our home environments, our workplace environments, and our civic environments. Icy cold comments of discouragement can change. Fiery hot tempers of destruction can change. Steamy gossip can change. Arid relationships can change. Positive change is possible – and is made more probable – when our faith is put into action.



Ch O


Chaplain, (Maj.) John O’Brien

115th Fighter Wing Chaplain Corps

Truax Field, Madison, WI


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