Only love can turn evil’s arrow into a boomerang and take out the source that threw it. That’s how it was at the cross, and that’s how it is with the people of the cross.
Could you say these things to the killer of your loved one:
“I forgive you.”
“I plead with you to repent and give your life to Jesus Christ who can change your life.”
“May God have mercy on you.”
So said family representatives of the nine victims of a fatal shooting at a black church in Charleston, South Carolina earlier this week. Their response is nothing short of miraculous.
Surely everything inside them cries out for vengeance, but the One outside them says, “Leave that to me.” And so they are. After all, he’s the risen One, and he’s making all things new.
Columnist Peggy Noonan also calls their gracious response a miracle. She describes the court hearing as “people looking into the eyes of evil, into the eyes of the sick and ignorant shooter who’d blasted a hole in their families, and explaining to him with the utmost forbearance that there is a better way.”
Exactly right. And so, along with Ms. Noonan, I, as a northerner, bow to the south.
The believers in Charleston are displaying the deepest kind of faith there is. We call it “Amish Grace” here in our neck of the woods, in honor of that community’s response to the 2006 school shooting in Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania.
The precious folks in South Carolina who have lost so much can say these radical things because they believe they’ve already gained everything in Christ. Their hope transcends all tragedy. That’s why they’re content to let earthly justice take its course. Something bigger and better is coming.
Until then, they will grieve deeply and fight hard to love. Let’s join them. And may evil—in all its forms—thus be made to clobber itself until it is no more.