The Way of Christ or the Way of the Zealot: Some Further Reflections on Charleston

Last Friday, the world witnessed the way of Jesus Christ in Charleston, South Carolina. The family members of the victims in the horrific shooting at an historic AME Church in Charleston, SC spoke to the racist young man that perpetrated the crime of killing nine people during a Bible study. Their words were nothing less than moving; and to a world that so often believes violence is the answer to violence, they were almost shocking. Those who spoke to Dylann Roof did not speak in anger telling them they hoped he would burn in hell for his crimes. Instead they spoke through tears of grief and pain, not only telling this young racist how he had devastated their lives, but they did something that their faith demanded they do-- they forgave him.

A daughter of one of the victims said, "I will never be able to hold her again. But I forgive you and have mercy on your soul," she said. "It hurts me, it hurts a lot of people, but God forgive you and I forgive you."

A sister of one of the pastor's killed stated, "We have no room for hate. We have to forgive. I pray God on your soul. And I also thank God that I won't be around when your judgment day comes with him."

The way of Christ was seen in those moments on Friday through his grieving disciples. Anyone remotely familiar with the Gospels could hear in their words the voice of Jesus on the cross-- "Father, forgive them. They don't know what they are doing." Those moments on Friday were holy moments, when the way of the cross was demonstrated to be a real and viable way for the followers of Jesus to live. Many, including Christians, have expressed shock in the midst of their admiration, that forgiveness was the subject of their words to Roof, and not words of hatred. Most people wouldn't have blamed them if words of hatred were expressed. There is something sad about the fact that even Christians seem more accustomed to responding in hate than with love and forgiveness. I suppose that is because we have far more of the former and too little of the latter.

We Christians like to talk a good line about how important the Bible is to us.



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