I sit here with a broken heart. A deeply troubled young man has taken the lives of so many precious people. My heart aches.
I am on Facebook (which is sometimes good, sometimes bad). Today, it’s bad. I’m reading of great leaders of our churches calling Dylann a “racist little punk,” “evil-hearted monster” and saying he should be hung or lined up in front of a firing squad. A friend of mine I went to Bible college with posted: “I hope he doesn’t get off on an insanity plea, what he did was just plain evil and he deserves the chair.” His own uncle stated “He’ll get no sympathy from us” and ““He’s going to pay for what he’s done, I’d pull the switch myself, if they’d let me.”
If these statements reflect what you are feeling, stop reading now because I’m only going to tick you off. Seriously – so stop.
First, I cannot hate this young man. “Whoever hates is still in the dark, stumbles around in the dark, doesn’t know which end is up, blinded by the darkness.” (1 Jn. 2:11) If I hate him, how am I any better than he is? Don’t stop reading just because there’s Bible verses thrown in there. Hear me out (but there will be more verses).
Not only am I not able to hate him, I must love him. “The person who refuses to love doesn’t know the first thing about God because God is love – so you can’t know him if you don’t love.” (1 Jn. 4:8) I don’t get to choose who I hate and who I love. I’m commanded to love. Period.
“Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you.” Eph. 4:32 Who the heck do I think I am to not offer forgiveness and love to others? Can I disagree with Dylann’s actions? Absolutely!
Satan used this young man to bring so much misery to so many people. Did you get that? SATAN used this man. This man was originally created for a Godly purpose. God has his eyes on him and lovingly created him for a reason. Somewhere along the way, satan got his hands on Dylann. What difference could someone loving him had made? I read somewhere online “He almost changed his mind because they were so nice.”
What if he heard reports of his uncle saying “We love you” rather than “Ride the lightening”? I hope he is hearing the message of the victims’ families saying:
‘You hurt me. You hurt a lot of people. But God forgives you. I forgive you.’
No, they were not my family members he murdered. How can I talk about love and forgiveness when I’m not the one affected? But you know what, the victims families ARE talking about forgiveness. According to news.Yahoo.com – “Relatives of the Charleston church shooting victims gave emotional statements during Dylann Roof’s initial court appearance Friday, some of them breaking into sobs as one after another they told the man suspected of killing their loved ones that they forgive him.”
Now, whether you believe in God or not, THIS ought to make you think. Dylann didn’t show any signs of remorse. He didn’t ask forgiveness from anyone. Yet they have offered forgiveness to him anyway. Through their pain, maybe even hatred towards Dylann, they are forgiving him. Why? Because they follow this crazy man named Jesus, you know, the one who sat with drunks, had patience with jerks, hung out with sluts and had dinners with thieves. The Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church is modeling what it means to truly follow this Jesus character. Not just going to church Sunday mornings when it’s convenient, not just when it’s easy but when it’s really, really hard. They are showing Jesus to the world right now.
So now for my special note to Christians specifically. The world is watching. They’re watching what the victims’ families are saying. They’re watching how the church responds, they are watching how YOU respond. When you say things like you hope he fries, you look exactly like the rest of the world. There is no light in that. Jesus calls us to be the light of the world, set apart and showing love. Pray for these families who have lost loved ones. Pray for Dylann. These families know where their loved ones are. They are sad but they know. Dylann’s soul is lost and needing saved right now. Pray for these families but also pray for Dylann. My Mama always told me if I didn’t have anything nice to say, to not say anything at all. So, I’ll put it to you this way: Church, if you cannot reflect the heart of Jesus, just shut up about Dylann Roof. You’re only feeding what the world thinks about “those Christians” if you only spew more hate.