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Racism, Evil, and Hope

Charleston Shooting

Micah 6:8 “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord requires of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God”

Last Wednesday night as I sat in a pew in my own church, another church experienced something straight out of a horror film. If you live in America, you know what I am referencing. A young white man, whom I will not name, walked into a church that was predominately black and asked if he could speak with the pastor. He then proceeded to shoot and kill 9 people, including the pastor. Now, some are willing to make excuses for this young man stating mental illness, and instability or are diluted enough to believe that this entire scenario was not motivated by racism. This entire situation is a nuanced one, one that could very easily sway people away from what is really happening, and it is of something we must be aware.

In Charleston on June 17th at around 9pm, Satan made a move with the intention of fueling mistrust, animosity, and discord within the church and between races. Reactions have been wide from outright condemnations of the young man responsible, to justifications of his actions (and I have heard both, at length and from Christians). Many see this as a race crime, a crime predicated on the hatred for African Americans alone, but if this was the case, why a church? Why not the local grocery store, or the mall, or some other area with a largely black population, why a church? At the same time, claiming that this isn’t about race is to deny the facts as they stand. The shooter admitted outright before he began shooting that his motives were based in racism, so how people excuse this is beyond me. The truth is somewhere in the middle and yet it is far darker, far more sinister then most are describing it.

On that night, evil struck in a place intended as the worship place of the creator and king of the universe. With a few pulls of a trigger a man enveloped by evil, took the lives of 9 other human beings, people created in the image of the invisible God. I need to press home to all of you what has actually transpired here is not racism, or violence, or a lack of gun control laws by themselves. No, what occurred on this night is nothing short of a plan devised in the mind of Satan and carried out by his minions. It is a demonic attack upon the Church, one that intends on fostering bitterness, anxiety, anger, vengeance, and division. On some level, this attack has succeeded, 9 people are dead, and the nation and church are in an uproar among themselves. But, on the other hand, it has done little but solidify one community’s bond to the gospel, a community that every Christian community should be striving to emulate, and that is the Christian community that has actually suffered these losses. This past Sunday, service was held in the very sanctuary those bullets were fired, and the words “No evildoer, no demon in hell or on Earth can close the doors of God’s church!” Words spoken from Rev. Goff as he exhorted the staying power of God’s people and how the Church will not be intimidated by any plan from the kingdom of darkness. It was a statement of defiance against evil, and injustice that immediately created a response of amens and applause from the crowd.

What occurred in Charleston should be a wake-up call to every Christian residing within this country. We as a people must unite, and support one another, calling for justice in an unjust world, and calling for protection from a loving Father. Now is not the time to argue about trivial worthless empty things. Now is not the time to be concerned for our “American” liberties, it is a time to understand where our true loyalty lies. Whites need to be more concerned with the loss of life due to racism than we are about the history of a flag that did in fact fly in defense of enslaving other human beings. This is a historical certainty, not a theory, but fact as black as coal. It can be justified, and rationalized to a point where it almost sounds ok, but does any justification or rationalization (no matter how persuasive) actually undo the reality that such a symbol represents to millions of other brothers and sisters in the faith? God is about dealing with what actually is above a rationale that may excuse certain behavior or beliefs. The reality is this, the white church needs to stop defending systemic racism, and it needs to stop defending symbols of racism (whether the meaning was derived earlier or later does not matter an iota). I rarely use such strong language, especially here, but I am convinced that this is not up for debate. It is a thing dictated to the saints by God through the narrative of the Holy Scriptures, that we stand with the oppressed, the marginalized, and the infirm. A flag does not need our care, but brothers and sisters in Christ do, start there and I think you’ll find that the words written here are true.

Let good come from this evil, and let this tragedy shine glory upon God in Christ as it already has. The family of the victims have already made a statement regarding their forgiveness of the young man who perpetrated this crime and that they pray he repent, and seek Christ as his savior. Some within the African American community have condemned this stating that it is black forgiveness of white abuses that keeps the system from changing. These voices are likely not Christian ones, and if they are they are voices that should be condemned, and rebuked as wickedness and hard heartedness. The families of the victims have done what is required of them in accord with the Scriptures. They have shown the love, grace, and hope we have in Christ through their actions, let us as the people of God come behind them and all the more show the love of Christ for hurting people, and seek justice for those who have been wronged. I pray that this find all of you well, and that we may begin to walk in faith together because of this tragedy, that we allow suffering to bind us together for the glory of God and furtherance of His gospel. Peace and blessings and as always, thank you for reading.

With Love in Christ

Justin (AKA The Nerdy Theologian)

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