Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Love Conquers Hate

On October 2, 2006, Charles Carl Roberts IV entered the West Nickel Mines School house holding a loaded gun. He proceeded to shoot ten girls, between the ages of 6 and 13 years old, and killed five of them.

Eventually he turned the gun on himself and took his own life.

While stories like this are all-too-common in our world today, the reaction of the community was anything but.

This shooting had taken place in the Amish country of Bart Township in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. The families who lost their daughters were filled with grief over the loss of their children, but they were also filled with the love of Christ.

This is why, instead of responding out of their despair, they followed the Prince of Peace and found the faith to act out the loving example of Jesus.

Just one week after the shooting, the same families who lost their daughters in this senseless and selfish act visited Marie Roberts, the wife of the man who had pulled the trigger and taken his own life.

They boldly, and sincerely, offered their complete forgiveness to her. They invited her to attend the funeral services for their slain daughters. They shared all relief funds sent to them with Mrs. Roberts and her own children who had lost their father that same day. They even attended the funeral of Charles Roberts and offered their loving support to his widow and his children.

This is love. This is true forgiveness and Christian compassion.

We saw this same brand of radical love and forgiveness a few days ago in Charleston, when the families of those who had lost their loved ones to the senseless shooting came face to face with the killer and sincerely forgave him.

Where do we find that kind of love? Where does it come from? Are these people just being religious? Are they pretending to love the one who killed their father, or mother, or sister or brother?

Or is it possible that the sort of love that Jesus describes in the Sermon on the Mount is actually real?

Out of hate, love can conquer. Out of despair, hope can rise. Out of tragedy, forgiveness can overcome and transcend human emotion.

Jesus empowers those who follow Him and put His words into practice. He fills us with real life, and real love that most people can only dream about.

In times of great darkness and despair, this love shines like the sun and puts Jesus on display for everyone to see.

This is why we're called to love our enemies. This is why we are expected to overcome evil with good. Not so we can be door mats, but so that we can demonstrate to the world that the Gospel is real and that His love transforms us into people who can love in the face of tragedy and forgive even the greatest evils.

The message of the Gospel is subversive. It goes against the grain. It makes a real, dramatic, powerful difference at just the right time, and when no one could possibly even expect it.

This is what we are called to, as followers of Christ. We are called to love extravagantly and to forgive inexplicably, and to demonstrate to the world that Jesus is alive inside of us.

Let the Kingdom come.


*Updated 6/23/15

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