What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He Who did not spare His Own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? Who shall bring a charge against God's elect? It is God Who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ Who died, and furthermore is also risen, Who is even at the Right Hand of God, Who also makes intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written:
'For Your sake we are killed all day long;
We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.'
Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him Who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Surely, these Words were fulfilled on June 17, 2015, at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in downtown Charleston.* Nine people were shot and killed during a Wednesday night prayer meeting. The shooter said he wanted to start a race war.
He chose a good city. Charleston is a proud, fiery town, much like Boston. Small wonder the Revolutionary War began in one and the Civil War in the other. Pride carries a short fuse.
But he chose the wrong place: a house of deeply committed Christians. This historic Black church welcomed Dylann Roof, a troubled young white man they did not know. Disaster followed.
Perhaps Dylann was encouraged by the riots in Baltimore, St. Louis and New York. Perhaps he thought this storm would be even bigger. Surely, his terrible crime would ignite a war. He was wrong.
The result is the most glorious witness of Jesus Christ I have ever seen: a witness more compelling than the world's best preacher in his very best sermon, a witness of radical forgiveness and amazing grace in those left behind, a witness of love.**
Those good sheep and their Jesus-like shepherd, those good sheep accounted for the slaughter, those good sheep are more than conquerors. They're my heroes. They're role models. I love their kin.
They refused to take the bait of hate. Instead, they took communion with Christ.
If they can act that way over grievances so great, can we act similarly over things much smaller?
To Be Continued...
** Forgiveness Following the Charleston Massacre: http://www.click2houston.com/news/love-and-forgiveness-in-wake-of-charleston-church-shooting-massacre/33748704
P.S. To read the other devotions in this series, please see the All Things series.