Love Your Enemy | A Christian Response to the Tragedy in Charleston

Unfortunately in the world we live in you don’t have to wait very long for the next tragic event to occur. It seems with increasing regularity someone decides to commit an appalling act against people around them. The latest tragedy happened last night when Dylann Storm Roof entered a church and killed 9 in a twisted sense of patriotic justice. This has left many shocked and outraged. Many of us asking how a human could carry out such an evil deed.

Let me first say we need to be praying for the community of Charleston, the Church, and the families of the victims. What they will go through in the coming weeks and months is something few of us in America can comprehend. They need the peace and provision that only God can provide.

In the midst of all the coming chaos there’s going to be a lot of voices yelling for what they feel is justice. Before that comes let me suggest one thing. If you and me claim to follow Christ, what would He want us to do in this situation? I think a sense of rage and a cry for justice is both normal and warranted. But I wonder where God’s heart is in this? And does my heart reflect His?

I can’t help but to read the comments on news articles and peoples reactions on social media. However, I often cringe at people’s responses to tragic situations like this. Comment after comment about what kind of punishment is best and what they would like to do to that person. Often the harshest and most vicious comments are directed at someone who suggests we pray and extend love to the one who committed the crime. But is that God’s heart? What should those of us that claim to follow Christ say and do?

I read a tweet by some guys at Bad Christian that I think fits this. “Our natural reaction is to see swift earthly justice. God’s desire is justice through cross, redemption for all, even ruthless murderers.”

I think we start in the right place. These situations should upset us, and we should want and desire for justice to be dealt. It’s how we act upon these feelings that’s not out of God’s heart. When we see evil in this world we’re quick to cry for justice from this world, but often we don’t cry to God for His justice. And often when we do cry to God for justice we beg for punishment for their evil deeds. Do you see the problem in that?

It’s the kind of justice we are asking God to bring about that is wrong. We are praying that God bring about the kind of justice WE seek. Instead we should be asking God to bring about the kind of justice HE seeks. We got it backwards. God will bring justice to this evil, and to all evil, but He will do it in His way not ours.

God’s ways are so much greater than ours; He can see the bigger picture. Which is why He calls to do things that are difficult and seem like a backwards way of doing things. He can see the bigger picture that we cannot. What He says sometimes is hard, but it’s trustworthy and worth doing. Check out what Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount.

“You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you!” 

What if Jesus actually meant this? When we hear this we often think of our boss that annoys us. Or the neighbor’s dog that constantly barks. But what if Jesus also wanted us to include Dylann Storm Roof, the opposing political party, people different then us, and even terrorists? What if we are supposed to pray for those people? What if we are supposed to extend Jesus’ love to even them?

That makes me a little uncomfortable, and I’m guessing it does for you too. But what would happen if the church got down on it’s knees and prayed for Dylann Storm Roof. That’s radical. That’s something no one would do. And that’s the Church that Jesus is calling us to be. Over the coming weeks pray for Dylann Storm Roof. Pray for God’s justice to be carried out instead of our own.

Jeffery Curtis Poor
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