The last two weeks have been filled with joy and tragedy both for me personally and for many other people I have never met. Joy, because it has been a time of milestones, with children graduating (my youngest included) and the promise of bright futures for those who work hard. Tragedy, because it has also been a time of loved ones moving from this life and on to the next (my stepfather included). For some, it was a peaceful transition but for others, it was a violent and unnatural death caused by the hatred of some stranger. What is fascinating to me is the focus we put on these events.
2 Timothy 3:1-5 But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters,proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!
This scripture describes the world today with precision with few exceptions woven here and there but rarely publicized. The tragedy in Charleston this last week is one of them. When the intention of the shooting and killing of several parishioners of a predominately African American church was to incite a race war, the reaction of those immediately affected turned to love and forgiveness. When riots were probably expected from the onlooking public, peaceful vigils were held with respect to what was really happening. Those people weren’t perfect, but they were in pursuit of seeking God and died in their pursuit. The young man who committed these murders had the intent of starting a war, but probably not the one that seems to be taking shape.
This war that has started gives love in the face of hatred. It makes us look at others with the eyes of God and know that He loves us all, no matter what sins we have committed. This war makes us understand our need to repent and seek God in every situation of our lives. It helps us to stand tall in the face of adversity, when everyone is chastising us for our unfailing belief in Jesus the Christ, our Savior and Redeemer. We live each day with the growing knowledge that we have already overcome through His sacrifice, even though we still live in this world we choose to live beyond it. We choose to live by faith. We choose love and we choose to forgive those who mean us harm.
The general public will not understand this message because there is no message of vindication. No message of revenge. There shouldn’t be revenge because that is not our place. God called us to “Be holy, as He is holy”. Our calling is to be the light in a world of darkness. Therefore, the family members of the people murdered in Charleston are examples of what it looks like to be that light in this world of darkness. They are hurt, grief-stricken and probably angry, yet they are meeting the world of hate and revenge with an attitude of love and forgiveness. This is a choice they have made. To honor God before all other things. In today’s world, I believe we have witnessed a miracle in Charleston. To God be the glory.