Hate will not win.

It’s bigger than racism. It’s bigger than hate.

No doubt racism is still a raging and important issue in our nation. As a middle-class white woman, no doubt I don’t fully understand it.

America’s most recent, devastating tragedy, a shooting spree in a church, underscores reality again. And my soul grieves with the families and friends whose loved ones died.

I’m thankful for the response of the Charleston community. I’m thankful riots haven’t broken out, but rather prayer. I say with these brothers and sisters-

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”  (Galatians 3:28)  The gospel creates unity.

But the problem is bigger than racism alone. We live in a broken society, a world fractured by the sin that courses through every person. I need only lift my head to see shattered fragments all around: shootings, bombings, abuse, rape, racism, terrorism, war, corruption, scandals, adultery, identity crises, abortion…

In my lifetime alone, the list is exhaustive.  Gulf War. Oklahoma City Bombing. Columbine. 9/11. Sandy Hook Elementary School. And I will not neglect to look at my own brokenness. I see my own sin.

So we cry for peace and we cry for change!

As I watched the suspect’s bond video this morning, a message from the victims’ families resonated across the court room.

“I forgive you.” 

“May God have mercy on your soul.”

“We would like you to take this opportunity to repent. Repent. Confess. Give your life to the One who matters the most, Christ. So that He can change you. He can change your ways no matter what happened to you.”

“I admit I’m a work in progress. And I acknowledge that I am very angry… But we have no room for hate, so we have to forgive.”

Over and over families offered forgiveness. More powerfully, they pointed the man who destroyed their families to One who will restore everything. Issuing a clear call to repentance, they pleaded for this man’s soul.

Not explicitly stated, but certainly implied was an undercurrent that forgiveness was possible because they had been forgiven.

So here’s what I want to say.

In a world gone mad, Jesus is the only hope. He alone will make things right. He forgives because He paid the penalty for sin.  

Since God is holy, forgiveness couldn’t merely be a wave of the hand, a dismissal of penalty. Rather forgiveness cost something. Atonement was absolutely necessary.

Issuing forgiveness cost the Father His Son, and it cost the Son His life. The legal demands of sin no longer bind me because Jesus took them! The Great Substitute. On the cross He became sin so that we could be righteous.

These grieving families can forgive because they have been forgiven.  They have been forgiven because Jesus satisfied God’s righteous wrath.

How beautiful the response of these dear ones! Turn to Christ. Run to King Jesus, who will one day make all things right. Amid a pain that hurts “every fiber” of their bodies, they offered Jesus. Such grace.

Hate will not win.

Sin will not win.

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