Dylann Roof hated blacks. He hated them so much that he purposed to kill, and did so this June 17th in the place where his victims found rest, love, and fellowship; their church. The white Dylann Roof walked into a predominately black church, where the members welcomed him with open arms, and sat with him, and treated him so kindly that he later said that he almost decided to not follow through with the murders, because they were so nice to him. But “hate” took control and now nine precious souls are dead, and a twenty-one year old life is in ruins.
As a Christian I hear so much about love. Jesus tells us to love one another and even love our enemies. We are also reminded that if a “so-called” Christian hates his so-called brother, he isn’t a Christian at all. The word “hate” in Scripture carries the idea of persecuting. Letting bygones be bygones is not hatred. Hatred goes out of the way to hurt and harm the object of its hate.
Love on the other hand goes out of the way to administer grace. Like hate, love also has activity. We know the love of God because God gave His Son for us. We know the love of the Son, because He gave His life for us. This is the life God calls Christians to. It is not a love of life, but a life of love. This is the purpose of the church, to display the love of Christ by giving of ourselves to those we would by nature, hate.
Now here is the clincher. Christian, you may not be a hateful person, but are you a loving person? We can pride ourselves on our lack of hate; while at the same time condemn ourselves by our lack of love. Love and hate is not like being saved or lost where there is no middle ground, where you are either one, or the other. There is ground between love and hate, and we tread that ground all too often.
I was so impressed by the members of Charleston’s AME church. While Dylann Roof stood between two law enforcement officers, he heard various AME church members say that they have forgiven him for what he did. They asked him to find forgiveness in Christ. He did not hear words of hate, but rather love. Martin Luther King once preached a sermon, We Shall Overcome. The members of the Charleston AME church have indeed overcome by the presence of Jesus Christ, and their love was evident by their desire to see the same for a murderer.