People gathered in church to read God’s word and pray.
A church known for reconciliation…
A church known for its love…
A church known for wanting all to know the love of Christ. Hatred visited that church in South Carolina this week.
Hatred that would create more racial conflict, more anger, and more division.
On June 17, 2015, Dillan Roof entered Emanuel Methodist Episcopal Church during an evening Bible study. He stayed at the Bible study for an hour. Then he opened fire and killed 9 people.
Roof’s attack was evil – not just mentally disturbed. He was not the victim in this attack; he was the perpetrator of a heinous evil. Though he may have had issues growing up, this attack was motivated by his beliefs and attitudes, not his mental health. Beliefs and attitudes that are evil: white supremacy and segregation.
We need to pray that the evil that has taken place in South Carolina would turn out for the good. And that the gospel would spread. Here are our 4 observations.
1. Already, greater tearing apart of peaceful race relations has begun. But the church where the murders took place was a historical symbol of just the opposite. Dating back to the founding of America and through the Civil War, this was a church that fought for equality. Not for hatred. As Christians, we need to be a witness to the truth that we all are created by God, in His image.
We shouldn’t divide ourselves according to different “races” – we are all members of one race: the human race. Each and every human being bears the image of God. And each person is dearly loved by God – so much that He sent His son to die for him.
What’s more, everyone who has received salvation through Christ Jesus is an adopted son or daughter of our almighty God (Galatians 4:5-7). No matter what racial background, we are all members of the same family, adopted children and heirs through Christ – and, as first century readers understood adoption under Roman law, adopted children can never be disinherited.
“For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:27-28).
Not only are we equally valued and loved, but we are also united through Christ – to God and to each other. In a culture of polarizing racial divisions, Christians are to demonstrate the unifying power of Christ.
2. President Obama and the liberal media immediately politicized the event, calling for more gun control. Yet, had there been a member of the church with a gun, maybe more lives would have been saved.
What’s needed is not more rules and regulations – it’s transformation of lives through the love of Christ.
The liberal media attack conservatives and anyone right-of-center for the ideas behind this attack, and neglect to mention its perpetrator. But Dillan Roof was a servant of an evil that says some people are less valuable than others, that some in fact are not made in the image of God at all.
As Gov. Bobby Jindal said, evil is real, and we cannot legislate it away.
3. Attacks on churches are continuing to rise. Assaults on pastors and people within a church have been increasing. Is your church prepared? At the church I attend, they actually look in the women’s bags.
All Christian churches must think in terms, these days, of how to protect its fellowship. How’s your church security? Is there someone able to protect the congregation from a mad person or someone who hates a member of the congregation? Or someone who hates Christians?
Churches are easy targets for those who want to commit violence and evil.
Bishop Jackson urges churches to heighten security. He calls on pastors and men to prepare to defend themselves and others. When there were plots against Israel in Nehemiah, the Israelites “prayed to our God and set a guard as protection against them day and night.”
4. More violence is ahead. It’s predictable that this will not be the end of church shootings. The rise of terrorism, the growing racial tension, the increasing hostility to Christianity, and even copycat murders all point to our need for diligence in our houses of worship.
The sin of racism is still alive in America. And religious persecution is a real threat in America. This shooting was a premeditated assault on Christians. It’s no coincidence that Roof chose a church.
Jesus forewarns us: “Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you… But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me” (John 15:20-21).
Let’s pray for peace and reconciliation. Let’s pray that God would use this horrific event to transform people’s lives. In fact, right now, in the city of Charleston, many people within the church are not calling for riots and demonstrations; they’re calling for prayer. Immediately after the incident, churches were filled with people crying out to God.
Take a look at some of the videos below and get a sense of the work of God going on now.
People flocked to church to pray the morning after – seeking peace, healing, and forgiveness. Watch here.
Interview with florist Debbie Dills, the woman who played a crucial role in the shooter’s arrest, watch here.
Pastor Jeffress on the shooting, watch here.
What do you think? Email me your thoughts at [email protected].[shareaholic app=”share_buttons” id=”16102076″]