Dylaan Roof claims he attempted to start a “race war.” But his shooting rampage in Charleston last Wednesday night set off a much different response. It has inspired a movement against hatred, spread not with human weapons, but with supernatural love.
“A lot of people expected us to do something strange and break out in a riot. Well, they just don’t know us. We are people of faith,” said Rev. Goff, interim pastor of Emanuel AME Church in Charleston (USA Today news report on Sunday, June 21, 2015).
A people of faith. Faith prompted the victims to welcome Dylaan into their prayer circle Wednesday night. Faith enabled their families to extend forgiveness as they looked into his unmoved eyes on a monitor at the bail hearing. Faith gives them hope for the future as they walk through the agony of the present.
Faith inspires supernatural love. We can love because we are loved by God. We can forgive because we have been forgiven through the blood of Jesus. This is what the victims’ families in Charleston modeled to a watching nation.
We are all, every human being, made in the image of God (Gen 1:27). We’re all descendants of the first human couple (Gen 3:20). We are all under the curse of sin (Rom 3:23). We’re all greatly loved by God (John 3:16). He is redeeming as His own those from every tribe, tongue, people and nation (Rev 5:9). In the eyes of our Creator, all men and women are deeply loved and are created equal.
There are really only two kinds of people in this world.
There are those without saving faith in Jesus – we’re commissioned to share His good news of salvation with them in love (Mk 16:15). And there are our brothers and sisters in Christ – fellow believers from all different nations, different cultures, different skin colors. Love is to characterize His family. In fact, Jesus said that the world will know we are His by our love for one another (Jn 13:34-35).
So there really is no room for hatred. Not for those outside God’s family. Not for our brothers and sisters in God’s family. Only supernatural love will overcome the evils of racial prejudice.
This love involves seeing others through the eyes of Christ and investing time, energy and compassion into their lives. It embraces humility, realizing that my own life is enriched by experiencing other cultures and by learning from the people around me.
Faith is the foundation for supernatural love. Faith in the Word of God is the basis for how we interact with others. Faith in the love of God is the motivation for how we live our lives. Faith in the promises of God is the hope for enduring pain and choosing love.
As Christians, we know that this world is not our home. Heaven is. One day we will take up residence there in the presence of Jesus with no more tears, no more hate, no more violence, no more racial prejudice.
As Christians, our primary identity is not our nationality or race or denomination. We are members of the household of faith – a family that spans the globe and reaches through time.
As Christians, we have a purpose to fulfill during our time here. We are called to show God to the world by living out His sacrificial love (1 John 4:12).
So let us join with our brothers and sisters in Charleston and choose love. Let us be tools in the hand of God to bring good out of this evil. And may many come to faith in Christ as they see our unity and love for one another.
“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive” Gen 50:20.
How do you express the love of God in your daily life? In what ways have you been enriched by opening your heart to learn from others?