In recent times, a theme of racial tension has materialized at the national level of our country. What does this mean? And what has been the consequence of these isolated occurrences in some of our major cities? Accusations, condemnations, demonstrations, rebellion, rioting, looting, and even investigations by the Attorney General … to consider just a few of the most recent happenings.
Then appearing out of nowhere … is Charleston, South Carolina … and the murder of nine members of Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. Certainly, this community had reason to react right along with the others before them … but they chose not to! Rioting not permissible; looting not acceptable; rebellion not considered. Really! What’s wrong with these people? Don’t they know how to hate? Evidently, NOT! Rather, a most incredible happening took place … right before our very eyes.
A stranger materialized out of thin air and stood tall in their church and their city. Indubitably, she was the very essence of a divine being; an angel from the heavens. Her name: Forgiveness!
She was upon their lips and within their hearts. Forgiveness had become the natural response of the members of the church and the town’s people. Obviously, the black congregation had regularly prayed, “Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.” Forgiveness was the teaching of their Jesus, which they had practiced over and over … in preparation for this personal crisis. Yes, forgiveness of the youth who intentionally killed their loved ones … was their loving response.
No, their focus could not be upon retaliation – it was not acceptable to the consciousness of the church or the city. The action of the congregation was so incredible that many outsiders could not stand the inner tension as they tried to comprehend it all. The ‘forgiveness rally’ was so unconventional, so impossible for many to behold, that the attention of would-be-protesters had to be, must me, diverted and redirected to another topic: a flag! Let’s attack a flag.
No wonder Jesus concluded: “... wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” Now I understand why Jesus taught his followers to forgive their foes as often as 490 times.
Why have so many today not put their focus upon the angel sent by God. Are we so stuck on hate, blame, and attack that we miss the angel’s message … of releasing our need to blame.