I haven’t yet run across anyone who was not stunned by the evil visited on the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston earlier this week…to say we are all heart sick isn’t adequate…we mourn with those who mourn today.
During the bail hearing, a bit unusual but apparently permitted in South Carolina, were some of the comments of relatives of those murdered by the self-confessed 21 year old who committed the crime.
Stunning the world, many said to him, “I forgive you…”
This is not a normal response to this level of evil, but is is consistent with the Christian faith of those who are suffering and grieving today at Emanuel. While I have never suffered at the depth these brothers and sisters are suffering, and I so wish I could remove their pain today, I am so vey proud to have them represent me and true Christian Faith—the kind of faith I so want to practice.
In the sermon on the mount, Jesus said, “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you!” Jesus goes on to say that by doing this we resemble God…who is love. (Matthew 5:43-48 NLT)
As the events unfolded in court before a disbelieving world, I was reminded of the sermon Martin Luther King Jr. wrote, “Loving Your Enemies,” after he had been arrested during the Montgomery bus boycott…
To our most bitter opponents…do to us what you will, and we shall continue to love you. We cannot in all good conscience obey your unjust laws because non-cooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation with good. Throw us in jail and we shall still love you. Bomb our homes and threaten our children, and we shall still love you…
As he was unjustly being stoned, Stepehen falling to his knees shouted, “Lord, don’t charge them with this sin!” (Acts of the Apostles 7:60 NLT)
I do not know how I would react under the incredible stress and pain experienced by my brothers and sisters at Emanuel but I know what I would like to do…by their example…resemble a loving and gracious God.