‘For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.’ ~ Romans 9:15-16
A mass killing of nine people attending bible study at the Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston, June 17th, an arrest and a confession to the crime of murder, June 18th, a bond hearing and then from the voices of grief stricken families June 19th, I hear echoes of these words as one shooting victim’s daughter sobbed, “I forgive you.”
The mother of Tywanza Sanders told Dylann Roof, “Every fiber in my body hurts.”
Chilling words. Words that pierce your soul.
As I continued to stare at the television screen, listening intently to the proceedings, I admit I got goose bumps and chills all over my body. I did not know what to make of it.
Today is a new day but I am still haunted by the words spoken by each family member as they spoke in the courtroom.
The victims included a state senator who was also the church’s pastor, three other pastors, a regional library manager, a high school coach and speech therapist, a government administrator, a college enrollment counselor, and a recent college graduate – six women and three men who felt called to not only fulfill the great commission but to open their church to whosoever will [may come].
Here are the words of the victim’s family members who spoke in court:
“You took something precious away from me,” Ethel Lance’s relative said. “I will never talk to her again. I will never hold her again. But I forgive you. You hurt me. You hurt a lot of people. But God forgive you, and I forgive you.”
“I forgive you, and my family forgives you,” Myra Thompson’s relative said. “But we would like you take this opportunity to confess and repent. Offer your life to Christ, the one who matters the most, and change your ways, and you will be okay. You will be better off than you are now.”
“We welcomed you with open arms to our bible study Wednesday night,” Felicia Sanders said. “You have killed some of the most beautiful people I know. Every fiber in my body hurts, and I will never be the same….May God have mercy on you.”
“Although my grandfather and the other victims died at the hands of hate, this is proof, that everyone’s plea for your soul is proof they lived in love and their legacies will live on in love,” Daniel Simmons’ relative said. “So hate won’t win.”
“For me I am a work in progress,” Rev. DePayne Middleton said. “I am very angry…We are the family that love built. We have no room for hate, so I have to forgive you.”
Forgive – Can The Church Afford Not To?
In any given circumstances, whether as individuals or as the body of believers [the church] our Christian duty is to forgive so that we might be forgiven ourselves for our own sins.
We have no choice. As a people of faith and having Jesus Christ as our Master and true champion in the cause of forgiveness, it is our moral obligation.
It is relevant to the times, seasons, events, circumstances or situations every day of our lives.
“But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” ~ Matthew 6:15 NIV
We see also that Jesus, who even though He was a man without sin, in His bloodied, mangled state there on the Cross, He echoed these words for those who crucified Him, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” ~ Luke 23:34
The weightiness of these scriptures and the example of Jesus are the evidence that we cannot afford to not forgive others for the hurt, the pain and the grief they have caused us.
Forgiveness is a necessary step towards healing and wholeness. It breaks the yoke of bondage from anger, hate and bitterness.
The victim’s relatives understood that, so it was no surprise that they too echoed those words of forgiveness to the self confessed murderer Dylann Roof.
Is There Not A Cause?
“You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” ~ John 8:44 NIV
The question which is the title of this segment, somewhat rhetorical in my asking, is intended to expose the real mastermind behind this heinous crime and others of its nature.
It is not the only crime, but the sacred place in which it was chosen to be executed.
For a man to go into the church, sit for one hour in a prayer group hearing the word of God being preached, and then turn and shoot nine people dead, is a crime of diabolical inspiration and the origin is from the highest level of Satan’s government.
It is no secret Satan hates God. He hates God’s word [which is truth] and He hates God’s people [black or white]. According to the scripture, he is a murderer from the beginning and he has a strong propensity towards shedding innocent blood and destroying lives.
God’s Sovereign Choice To Withhold His Grace
The church has done it’s part. The victim’s relatives are relieved from the law whereby they/we must all forgive. Charleston will remain strong and in time, their gaping wound will be healed.
But what becomes of Dylann Roof is a question none of us have the answer to. He sits in a jail cell today under suicide watch. What I do know is that, God only reserves the right to uphold and execute the death sentence, wherein as the scripture says, He withholds His grace, or as it pleases, to show mercy and compassion.
Whenever a man rejects God’s word and gives in to diabolical evil, he has rejected God Himself and the only way by which he could [have been] saved from condemnation, judgment and death!
God’s attitude is such that you never touch or harm a child of God much less those that are the pastor, elderly, the poor, the widows, fatherless and motherless among us.
For someone to have done a crime of that nature is unscrupulous, and the act itself abominable, repugnant and odious, befitting the highest level of punishment there is.
So as the church, we leave this to the righteous anger of God. For the scripture says, “I will take revenge; I will pay them back, says the Lord” ~ Romans 12:19 (NLT)
My Final Thoughts
It does not matter what your skin color is, your political or governmental affiliation or how you feel about religion, and laws and regulations surrounding gun control, man has need for God and the instruments that He has chosen to spread the message of love and truth.
The evil that surrounds us is the proof that man is full of evil desires and intentions which leads him to commit crimes of varying degrees. In that case, we see that without God, it is not possible for a man to be good, and his life in the end is miserable and useless.
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