“By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35)
When Jesus was on the earth, He promised that His church would prevail against the gates of hell. “…and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18b) Through the centuries Satan has perpetrated attack after attack against the kingdom of God, attempting to destroy the body of Christ, His Holy Church. The latest attempt last Wednesday night in Charleston, South Carolina, was another defeat snatched from satanic jaws of victory.
Nine people, all followers of Jesus Christ, including Rev. Clementa Pinckney, the pastor of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church were murdered in church. It looked like a sure win for the enemy. Nine believers were dead at the hands of a confused young man who had said he wanted to start a race war. But just as Satan thought he’d won when Jesus died on the cross, it was no win but in fact was a great defeat. Just as Jesus took the first victory from him by rising from the dead, the church body at Emanuel AME has taken this victory from him. The families of the nine murder victims won by forgiving the young man used in this heinous act. Love trumps hate every time.
Satan thought he’d strike a winning blow against the church by inciting division in the body – black against white and white against black. Wrong again! Churches of all denominations, of all races and cultures have united in support of Emanuel AME Church. The devil fails to understand that when one part of the body of Christ is hurt, the rest of the body gathers around to support, to pray and to comfort. Churches across the nation are praying for their brothers and sisters in Charleston SC. My home church, Grace Outreach Center in Plano, was one of many that sent donations to show them our love and support.
I’m reminded of what the Apostle Paul wrote in the book of Romans about how believers are to act toward one another and toward outsiders. I’ve seen this passage in action the last five days by the families of the murder victims, other members of that church and by believers across the nation.
9 Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good.
10 Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; 11 not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; 12 rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; 13 distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. 16 Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion.
17 Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. 18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.
19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 Therefore “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink;
For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.”
21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Peace and blessings in our Lord Jesus Christ,
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson.