This I wish I did not know.
On March 24, 1998, a school shooting occurred in Jonesboro, Arkansas, at Westside Middle School. Five people died, 4 students and one teacher, when two students set off fire alarms and fired bullets into the crowd leaving the school. An alarm for safety, used as means for murder.
This week, Charleston, South Carolina, encountered this same evil. A young man, Dylan Roof, attended Wednesday night Bible study at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. He was welcomed, sat for an hour, and then murdered nine attenders. A place of safety, now a killing ground.
Most of us, thankfully, will never know the demons which motivate such horror. We only know that we have seen a glimpse of hell and that its eruption has cost us dearly. Nine are now with God, and our prayers are the only words which will garner any sense of understanding.
The day after the Jonesboro shooting I visited with one little girl wounded just above the knee. When I saw her I saw what we almost lost – a bright, shining, smiling face, the best of what God creates – almost lost because of the use of something that should be safe, for slaughter. Betrayal.
As Christians, we know the betrayal story. Jesus was betrayed. Judas, his follower, revealed Jesus’ location to his enemies. One who should have been trusted was untrustworthy. One with whom Jesus should have been safe was dangerous, and through Judas’ actions Jesus was killed.
As Christians, though, we also know betrayal does not have the final say. As painful as evil is, it gains no victory. Love prevails. It is what our God insists on, and at times the Holy Spirit even gives believers the very words to say in evil’s face.
As we walked through the tragedy, I marveled at the words CNN broadcast as victims’ family members spoke at Dylan Roof’s court hearing. Amidst pain and tears, The Gospel was proclaimed. You can watch it here – CNN Story. Victims’ families, through sobs, called on Dylan Roof to repent and know the love of Jesus.
It changed my view of God. A God calling us, through tears at what was done to His Son, to repent and know the love only God offers – this is the Christian Gospel. Love is the last word, and it is a truth God, through tears and His son, invites us each to know.
(thank you for reading, if you found Jesus in this please comment and share)