You all know the tragedy that happened in Charleston last week. What’s amazed and baffled the media and others in the US is the attitude of the Emmanuel fellowship and the family and friends of the loved ones who lost their lives in the satanic, depraved act of violence. Most observers were stunned at the forgiveness extended to Roof and even concern for his spiritual welfare, since he was counseled to repent of his terrible crime.
It gave me great joy to see God’s love, and forgiveness is part of love, in action. What a great witness to a lawless world of how life can indeed be when God is in it. It doesn’t remove the suffering, nor does it remove the sorrow. But it does provide the one who extends forgiveness great peace and a deep spiritual joy that no man can interfere with. Those that forgive in this manner understand what scripture means when it says that Jesus endured the suffering of the cross because of the joy that lay ahead.
This is spiritually serious stuff, and it does need to be addressed from time to time. These words contain challenges for all of us so that we can indeed examine ourselves to see if we are in the faith.
What did these beautiful examples of what it means to follow Jesus and live His way have? They are clearly indwelled and led by God the Holy Spirit. Only God can transcend our very natural human emotions to reflect divine emotions. It’s almost humanly impossible for a person to forgive an abuser. I know. But God helped me to not only forgive my abuser but also the blessing of praying her home to Him at then end of her physical life. God is beautiful. God helped Corrie ten Boom extend the hand of forgiveness to the repented prison guard who tormented her and her bunkmates in the concentration camp. God’s ways sure aren’t ours. Corrie knew what God wanted her to do. She also knew she couldn’t do it on her own power. She was a wonderful woman of God.
Matthew 5:44 (NIV)
44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
Matthew 6:15 (NIV)
15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
Matthew 6:14 (NIV)
14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.
Do you live these verses? When suffering comes upon you like it did our brothers and sisters in Emmanuel, what do you focus on? Is it your pain and suffering or on God to make a way through it? Do you say something like, “God, I want to live like I follow Jesus, but I need Your help to do so. I can’t see how You will make this situation work for my good, but I trust you to show me how You will do it”?
I don’t know about you, but I have a temper that erupts if I don’t ask God to help me moderate it. Sometimes, I lash out when someone hurts me. That’s means that I fail following Jesus and living His way. Our brothers and sisters in Christ in Charleston passed God’s test big time and, in doing so, witnessed powerfully what it means to be a believer. How about you?
Pray with me, please: Father God, thanks for being with Your children in Charleston and continuing to grant them what they need to move forward in their witness for You. Help me to transcend my humanity when adversity comes my way so I can be the same kind of witness. If my fellowship lacks that kind of witness, may You use me and others as catalysts for positive spiritual change and growth. Holy Spirit, thanks for being with me always and leading my life from humanity to spirit as only You can. In Jesus’ name, amen.
copyright 2015, Pastors George and Sharon Billington, All Rights reserved