As we prepare our hearts for Worship this week, I keep thinking to the families who are preparing to worship tomorrow in Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church Charleston, South Carolina. As brothers and sisters in Christ we share many things in common with the saints gathered there. We also share the bond of being among the “People Called Methodists.” Let us try to fathom that what would have been another “routine” Sunday at the church will be anything but that this week.
We have been moved by the stories and images that come out of this terrible incident. Racism has no place in our world and especially our churches (Galatians 3:26-29). May the Church (not just our congregation, but the church around the world) be a testament to this truth through this difficult time.
Senseless acts of violence are difficult to comprehend. This is another reminder that the Enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy. He will do so even in the most hollowed of places and times. However, we serve a Savior who has already overcome the Destroyer and he cannot win. God is not the author of evil in the world. But because of his great forbearance, deeply evil acts often occur right alongside acts of the deepest good. This is illustrated in the parable of the wheat and the tares (Matthew 13:24-30). Jesus teaches that there will be a time when the harvest produced by each will be dealt with accordingly. May the Church be a testament to this truth through this difficult time.
Forgiveness can be difficult to offer, and perhaps even more difficult to receive. I have been moved by the messages of some of the victims’ families at the court proceedings. Dylan Roof was offered forgiveness from the ones closest to the victims. He was offered the testimony of Christ. He was offered the opportunity to repent and believe the Gospel. All sin is grievous to God: yours, Mr. Roof’s and mine. We are all offered the same opportunity to repent and receive Christ’s forgiveness (Luke 23:39-43). May the Church be a testament to this truth through this difficult time.
Christians are called to bear the message that things can change. God is calling every person in the world to be reconciled unto Himself. This is part of what it means to be made in the image of God and God’s testimony that the image will be fully restored again. Christians have the right and responsibility to bear this message in the streets and shops, in the cafes and town halls, in the home and in the pulpits. The Church must broadcast (one-on-one and to the masses) the message that evil will not win, forgiveness is offered, and true change is only possible when hearts turn to Christ (Revelation 22:1-7). May the Church be a testament to this truth through this difficult time.
Join me in prayer this week, and in the coming times, for our sisters and brothers at Emanuel AME Church and for all who bear this message around the world.