We woke up this morning to reports of at least nine of our brothers and sisters murdered in cold blood in Charleston, in what’s supposed to be a sanctuary. No words can satisfy or bring peace at such a moment. Only Christ can, and this unspeakable tragedy is another reminder of the sin that sickens us as a species.
As horrific as this time is for the Charleston community, our reaction from here on can make it even worse. I pray the rest of us will resist the urge to draw any political or cultural conclusions from such evil (in order to reinforce our biases). I know it will be difficult, especially because those with powerful platforms will attempt to draw us into such fruitless conversations. But what happened here is unfortunately possible in any era of human history, regardless of the state of the culture or the behavior of the government.
Our own history proves it. The AME church was originally founded because most whites didn’t want to worship with blacks, at a time when many whites paid little regard to the lives of the faces the Creator painted differently from theirs.
This sickness is called sin: it knows no history, philosophy, or ideology. It’s found in all of us, the hedonist as well as the pastor who one day walks into the pulpit and announces he’s leaving his wife for his mistress or homosexual lover. Have we not seen many recent reminders of this?
Biblically, I believe there are two responses to this:
First, for justice to roll on like a river, and righteousness like a mighty stream. Pray this murderer is caught and quickly, and given the civic justice he deserves, while also remembering Christ died for his sins as well.
Second, pray for the peace of these families, as well as this community. That somehow a God who could use even the unjust murder of His only Son to bring peace between Him and us can also keep this promise:
That all things work together for the glory of God and for those called to His purposes.
Our friend, Dr. Michel Milton, penned this prayer for our brothers and sisters in Charleston:
“He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust” (Psalm 91:1-2).
Our Father, whose incomprehensible love saved our souls through faith in the crucifixion of Thy Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, save the brokenhearted families of those taken so suddenly and tragically at Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston; helping, supporting, and comforting these precious bereaved believers so that the light of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus gives healing hope in this hour and in the days to come.
This we pray, believing that good shall overcome evil, in the name of our Savior and King, Jesus, our Emmanuel—God with us always— who reigns with Thee, O Father, and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forevermore. Amen.
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