I love our family meal times. Not every meal time involves a serious discussion, but almost every Saturday morning I have been trying to focus my family on the Bible.
One of the themes that we've focused in on this past year is "Love God, Love Others." Some recent current events presented a great opportunity to explain Biblical forgiveness.
A few weeks ago, as I'm sure you know, Dylan Roof shot and killed nine people at a prayer meeting in Charleston, SC. Unfortunately, senseless murder is not too uncommon nowadays.
However the response by the remaining family members was striking. They offered forgiveness and prayed for God's mercy on him.
As a family, we discussed how we would feel if someone killed one of us. Sad. Angry. Upset. And those feelings are all valid.
Then I read Ephesians 4:32:
"Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you."
Paul makes it clear that our actions should not be dependent on our feelings. Our actions should flow out of our relationship with Christ. That is, our love for God is directly connected with our love for others. And love for others should know no bounds, even if those bounds involve hate-filled murder.
More Thoughts on the Charleston ShootingBrandon Smith writes in Reflect Christ, Deflect Satan:
"The gospel frees us from our own interests. Christians have an obligation to love God and love others well precisely because of the cross."And my friend Jim Taylor, before he preached a sermon that I really needed to hear, shared thoughts on the Charleston shooting:
On a Related Topic . . .If you've been following the story of this shooting (and probably even if you haven't), you know that our country is awash in a Confederate Flag controversy. Again. (Yes, I know that the flag is technically the Confederate Battle Flag.)
A few days after it began, I tweeted this late one night:
Any Christian who puts his "Southern Heritage" over our identity and unity in Christ, tramples on the gospel.— Joey Espinosa (@EspinosaJoey) June 23, 2015
And then I followed up a few days later with a 1500-word expansion on that thought.
Now, as we are about to celebrate our nation's independence, I want to expand on that thought even more. It's not just "Southern Heritage" that Christians need to be careful of. We can put any other identity issue in that tweet as well.
Here are a few other variations you can try on for size:
Any Christian who puts his Patriotism over our identity and unity in Christ, tramples on the gospel.
Any Christian who puts his family ancestry over our identity and unity in Christ, tramples on the gospel.
Any Christian who puts his work or ministry over our identity and unity in Christ, tramples on the gospel.
Any Christian who puts his ethnic group over our identity and unity in Christ, tramples on the gospel.
Any Christian who puts his hobby over our identity and unity in Christ, tramples on the gospel.
Any Christian who puts his (________) over our identity and unity in Christ, tramples on the gospel.
Examine your heart. What could you fill in this blank with?
Remember, Christian, any freedom you have in your heritage is trivial compared to the freedom Christ brought for you.
These posts may help you think through why our Christian identity should matter so much:
- Patriotism and the Church
- Good-Bye, Christian America
- What's the Difference Between Race and Ethnicity?
Final Thoughts and Related LinksI encourage you to spend some time reading one or more of these links:
- The 'Southern Avenger' Repents: I Was Wrong About the Confederate Flag. The title says it all.
- Benjamin Watson shares his story about a teammate who learned what this flag meant to others.
- A former co-worker (a Southern country boy through-and-through), began opposing the Confederate Flag at a Christmas Parade, over 7 years ago."I don’t know how the men on that float had the nerve to wave, smile, and send Christmas wishes to the people lining the street while waving a flag that symbolizes hatred to those same people."
- Why Don't We Strive for Racial Reconciliation? (from my Justice Kindness Humility blog)
- 2 Great Videos About Race, Community, and the Gospel (from my Mission: Allendale blog)
**image courtesy of melodi2 via rgbstock