“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”
I John 4:18
The events of the past week at Emanuel AME Church in downtown Charleston, SC, have shaken our nation at a deep level. It has been a painful week.
Last week, a young man sat in a Wed evening Bible study for an hour with other worshippers before opening fire on them with a handgun, killing nine people. According to eye-witness reports, he was “eliminating the threat” (his words) of black people to our nation.
This tragic event seemed to cross another line of evil. Brutally killing someone in the streets is horrible. Coming into a house of worship and senselessly murdering worshippers is unthinkable. But this past week it happened.
Where do we go from here?
At the bond hearing where the accused killer sat before a judge and the family members of his nine victims, this deeply troubled young man heard from the relatives of the ones he killed.
A daughter of one of the victims said this, “You took something very precious to me. . . but I forgive you.”
Unbelievable. In the face of bitter hatred, these believers expressed forgiveness to the man who took their family members lives in cold blood. This is the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ. This is the unstoppable power of love in the person of Jesus.
Because of Jesus Christ, forgiveness is possible for murderers, abusers and those who are bent on evil. Because of Jesus Christ, hate does not have to win. Because of Jesus Christ, love has overcome the world and all its sin. Because of Jesus Christ, we are not hopeless or defeated, even when humble servants are the Lord are slain in our churches.
We have hope today because of Jesus Christ. He too was brutally murdered for no crime at all. He too suffered at the hands of murderous hearts full of hatred. He endured everything they had to throw at him in his own body, and then uttered these eternal words: “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”
Those words ring true today. Please join with me in prayer for the families of victims of the Charleston church shootings. Please join with me in lifting up the leaders in the state of SC as they wrestle with the values and direction of their beloved state. Please join with me in forgiving those who do evil in our day.
This is the power that overcomes the world: love and forgiveness. In Jesus Christ, we have a power no evil can touch. The love for others whether they deserve it or not. Forgiveness for the very ones who do harm to us or those we love. This is AGAPE. It is not of this world. Thank God, through Jesus Christ, it is in this world.
I thank God for Jesus today. He gives me new home each and every day, no matter what I hear or read in the news. We do not have to fear. Jesus has overcome the world.
Let’s celebrate today that fear has been overcome by love: the love of God in Jesus Christ!