Charleston Shootings & the Sovereign Grace of God

Charleston Shootings & the Grace of God

Our beloved Charleston community is full of tears and profound sadness today after the detestable and violent murders at the historic Emanuel AME Church on Calhoun Street. Dylann Roof, a twenty-one year old, attended the church’s prayer meeting for an hour before opening fire on the congregation. Roof brutally murdered nine people, including the church’s esteemed minister, Rev. Clementa C. Pinckney. Our hearts break for those who lost loved ones last night–– for those who lost a father, a mother, an aunt, an uncle, a son, a daughter, a friend. Let us pray for these dear families, for the comfort and peace in Christ that passes all human understanding.

When an atrocity of this magnitude occurs, most of us experience a broad range of emotion. We find ourselves extremely angry one minute, and deeply saddened the next. We want justice for the perpetrator, and compassion for the families left behind. The brokenness of this present evil age is keenly felt when events like this occur. While Charleston is a beautiful place, we were starkly reminded last night that it is not paradise. No, we are still firmly planted east of Eden, in a thorny wilderness, no matter where we might live. But there is hope. There is a bright and glorious hope that no devil or murderer can take from us–– and that’s the hope of the gospel.

The good news of the gospel teaches us that through faith in Jesus Christ we have an eternal inheritance, no matter what kind of suffering we might endure in this sin-torn world. The good news of the gospel teaches us that in Christ we receive grace, forgiveness, righteousness, and everlasting life. In Christ we are taught “the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us”–– and nothing can separate us from God’s love (Rom. 8:18; 31-39). In Christ we are taught that it is our sovereign God who ultimately gives life and takes it away, and not senseless killers (Job 1:21-22; Ps. 139:16). This is not religious sentimentalism. It is not stoicism. It is life-transforming, deeply comforting truth.

In times like these let us not spend time trying to understand the depth of wickedness that exists in the human heart. And let us not respond to this hateful act with more hatred. Rather, let us humbly and confidently look to Christ, our crucified, resurrected, and exalted Lord. Let us more eagerly anticipate His glorious return. Let us be soberly reminded of the brevity of life, and serve our Savior with greater measures of gratitude and zeal. Beloved, each day could be our last. It certainly was for our brothers and sisters last night–– those who, united to Christ, boldly approached the throne of grace at their weekly prayer meeting, and now behold our risen Savior face to face.

Be still, my soul: begin the song of praise
On earth, believing, to Thy Lord on high;
Acknowledge Him in all thy words and ways,
So shall He view thee with a well pleased eye.
Be still, my soul: the Sun of life divine
Through passing clouds shall but more brightly shine.
                 - Katharina von. Schlegel