It’s been quite the couple of weeks, here in America. We’ve had a historic and divisive Supreme Court decision, my own state of California has passed a controversial law on vaccines, and we’ve been shaken by the sharpest reminder in some time that violent, blatant racism is far from dead.
How are you doing with it all?
I’m still processing the Supreme Court decision. I’m concerned about the California law. But the nine men and women killed at Emanuel AME in Charleston—and what has followed—are still especially on my heart. That probably doesn’t surprise you if you’ve been reading my blog long…the Lord has been teaching me about issues of racial reconciliation a lot over the past few years, and He’s not finished yet.
Since Dylann Roof opened fire at that gathering of African-American believers because he wanted to start a “race war,” I’ve been grieved, angry, humbled, inspired, and challenged. I still don’t know fully how we should best respond…except to pray, and reach out to love and listen to each other as best we can.
But here are some thoughts I’ve had in the days following #Charleston…I’d love to hear your thoughts and responses.
- Racism still exists, and we can’t ignore it.
It’s odd, but this realization has actually been encouraging to me…because I feel like I’ve been seeing others realize it as well, people who might in the past have tended to deny it. I’ve seen a greater willingness among conservatives, for example, to admit that America needs help in the area of race relations. A greater willingness to examine ourselves, and even treasured regional and cultural symbols, and be willing to put action to our words in seeking racial healing. I was humbled and inspired and encouraged by this article, written by a “Southern avenger” about how his heart has changed regarding the Confederate flag—read what he says here.
- Forgiveness is stronger than hate.
Across the nation believers and unbelievers, conservative and liberal, have been moved by the response of the families of the Charleston victims to their loved ones’ murderer. Their words of forgiveness and pointing him to God’s mercy have humbled us, shown us Jesus, and brought a state and a nation together behind them in a way words of hate never could. I hope they have somehow touched Dylann Roof too.
- Being a follower of Jesus is something that should show.
So often Christians in the news are portrayed as narrow-minded, unloving, and only speaking out to judge others. And sometimes—though not always—we deserve it. But when people see followers of Jesus respond to cold-blooded, hate-motivated murder with love and forgiveness…well, that’s something different. It’s the way we’re supposed to be.
- Racial reconciliation is the responsibility of all of us—especially the church.
I’ve been reminded anew of how easy it is to be overwhelmed by evil in the world. But we are to not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. And that takes all of us—especially those of us who are Christ’s Body in the world, His means of working out His kingdom of justice and mercy. So when I start to feel overwhelmed and want to escape the news through mindless Facebook scrolling, I pray He helps me learn to instead seek His face for what I can do. Maybe pray, or reach out in a new way. This is an area I need to grow in, but I want to.
- This is a spiritual battle, but greater is He who is in us than he who is in the world.
Despite the outpouring of love and support for the Emanuel AME families, hate has cropped up these recent days too. A sudden spate of fires–some of them arson–at black churches, as well as Ku Klux Klan campaigns seeking new members and celebrating their recent “victory,” remind us that the battle is real…and it is spurred on by the enemy of all our souls, black and white. Satan doesn’t want God’s people to come together and reach out to each other in repentance, forgiveness, and healing in the wake of this tragedy. So we need to be mindful of that, and persevere anyway—because Jesus and His love are stronger, no matter what.
What is on your heart in the wake of the Charleston shooting? How do you sense you are being called to live? Please comment and share!