On June 27, 2015, Dylann Roof entered a Bible study at the historic Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC. He participated in the Bible study, even discussing his view of Scripture. As the participants closed in prayer, Dylann Roof took out a gun from his fanny pack and pointed it at 87 year old Susie Jackson. Her nephew, Tywanza Sanders, intervened and was shot first. By the time Roof finished, eight other people had died from multiple gunshot wounds at close range. It was evil, heartbreaking, and shocking.
What was more shocking was the response to Dylann Roof by some of the members of the AME Church. At the bond hearing, Roof had to face the families of the victims. As reported by USA Today:
First up was Nadine Collier, who lost her mother Ethel Lance.
“I forgive you … You took something really precious from me. I will never talk to her ever again, I will never be able to hold her again, but I forgive you and have mercy on your soul,” Collier says while fighting back tears.
Not all the family members could bring themselves to do that, which is completely understandable, but several did.
One who did was Chris Singleton, a minor league baseball player in the Chicago Cubs farm system. His mother was murdered in the Charleston Massacre. He was in the middle of playing a baseball game when he decided to show grace to Dylann Roof.
So far, Dylann Roof does not seem to have been moved by these demonstrations of grace and forgiveness. However, he is not the only one involved. This was a point brought out by Singleton:
“After seeing what happened and the reason why it happened, and after seeing how people could forgive, I truly hope that people will see that it wasn’t just us saying words,” Singleton says. “I know, for a fact, that it was something greater than us, using us to bring our city together.”
The demonstration of grace was a testimony of love to the whole city. It was an amazing act of love that contributed to building a loving community in a way that few other things could.
And here we have God’s plan for building a loving community. What He does is create specific excellent traits or virtues within His people that build the loving community. He transforms them into the type of people who build a loving community. Continue reading “Destined for Excellence: A Meditation on 2 Peter 1”