I wish I could report that attacking people in churches ended with the horrific Birmingham, Alabama bombing. It did not, In fact we could do several posts on murders that occurred in churches throughout the world. With our recognition of Black History Month, we have focused on notable African Americans who embraced the Christian faith. While we prefer to write about the promises of God, in my opinion it important to remind this generation that there is often a cost to the Cross.
On June 17, 2015 we see another kind of massacre in a church. This time an avowed white supremacist, Dylan Roof came into a mid-week service and opened fire on the congregants there, killing nine people including Senator Clementa Pinckney, who was also the pastor.. Roof stated emphatically that it was an intentional act, for which he had no regret. The phenomenal thing that occurred afterwards was the expressions of forgiveness that the loved ones of the murdered victims of the Emmanuel AME Church gave to Dylan Roof, even after he said he would do it again.
In an era that has largely forgot the non-violent protests of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the members of Emmanuel AME Church went a step further -they showed us what kind of love that Jesus wants His children to have:
2 "This is My commandment, that you love and unselfishly seek the best for one another, just as I have loved you. 13 No one has greater love [nor stronger commitment] than to lay down his own life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you keep on doing what I command you. 15 I do not call you servants any longer, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you [My] friends, because I have revealed to you everything that I have heard from My Father.16 You have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you and I have appointed and placed and purposefully planted you, so that you would go and bear fruit and keep on bearing, and that your fruit will remain and be lasting, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name [as My representative] He may give to you. 17 This [is what] I command you: that you love and unselfishly seek the best for one another.
18 "If the world hates you [and it does], know that it has hated Me before it hatedyou. 19 If you belonged to the world, the world would love [you as] its own andwould treat you with affection. But you are not of the world [you no longer belong to it], but I have chosen you out of the world. And because of this the world hates you.20 Remember [and continue to remember] that I told you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also. 21 But they will do all these [hurtful] things to you for My name’s sake [because you bear My name and are identified with Me], for they do not know the One who sent Me. John 15:12-21 (AMP)
If a person does not know Christ then they are subject to blaspheme His Name, ridicule His followers, even try to get rid of His spokesmen. This is not new, it has been symptomatic since Jesus walked this earth. Jesus gives us a standing response:
But I say to you who hear [Me and pay attention to My words]: Love [that is, unselfishly seek the best or higher good for] your enemies, [make it a practice to] do good to those who hate you, Luke 6:27 (AMP)
That God gives any one of us the ability to do this is the mystery of the gospel, Christ in you, the hope of glory (Colossians 1:27)!