I grew up in North Carolina, and visited South Carolina many times. Growing up in the South had many advantages and liekwise many disadvantages. One of those disadvantages was racism. As we have seen through the last year, racism is alive and well throughout the U.S.
My heart breaks for the people in Charleston and Emanuel AME Church. Church should be a safe place. A place of worship. A place of love. A place of grace. A place where everyone is welcome. Instead it turned into a place where a terrorist attack occurred.
Evil exists everywhere. Everywhere! From the suburbs to the projects, evil persists.
As I’ve thought about this atrocity over the past few days I’ve had many thoughts of anger, frustration, and just really pissed off. I’ve visited several predominantly black churches in my life, and every church I have ever been a part of was mixed racially. This could have been anyone of my friends or loved ones at a prayer service. We should never have to look over our shoulder in fear over who might be in our services. We should be safe in houses of worship.
Then I saw the below video a few days ago. I was shocked. The pastor said below:
“I’m reminded by some news media person, “I wonder why all the nine families spoke of forgiveness, and didn’t have malice in their heart.” You ought to know the nine families daddy!”
This pastor has every right to be angry and want revenge, but instead the church chooses forgiveness. They forgave a man who hates them. They forgave a man that killed their family members and loved ones. They give the man a clean slate.
The church service begins by quoting Psalm 118:24, “This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.” This type of praise, and this type of forgiveness can only come from one place, and that is from Jesus.
Dr. King Said, “We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.”
Forgiveness and love go hand in hand. However, don’t assume that forgiveness is easy, in fact an act of forgiveness may be the hardest thing you ever do. Author and speaker Brene Brown says, “In faith communities where forgiveness is easy and love is easy, there’s not enough blood on the floor to make sense of it.”
The last thing love and forgiveness are is easy. The moment we come face to face with the evil that lives in us then we are more apt to forgive because then we understand that we too need forgiveness.
I don’t have the answers for racism, but I believe that grace and forgiveness are a good place to start. As Paul wrote, “Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.”
This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it…even if we have been wronged.