By now you have heard about the shooting in Charleston, South Carolina. Dylann Roof after being welcomed into a Bible Study opened fire and killed 9 people at Emanuel AME Church. Among all the other stories to come from this one event, is the powerful story of one man’s forgiveness.
These have to be the most powerful words I have heard in a long, long time. Voiced by Rev. Anthony Thompson who lost his wife. He said to Roof, “I forgive you, and my family forgives you. We would like you to take this opportunity to repent. Repent. Confess. Give your life to the one who matters the most, Christ, so he can change your ways no matter what happens to you and you'll be OK. Do that and you'll be better off than you are right now.”
I can’t imagine how tough it was to say and mean these words at such a time. I don’t think it is a common response. More common might be, “I hope you get what you deserve. I hope you pay for this.” No one would fault him for feeling that way. I’m not sure anyone could claim strength to be able to say and do what Rev. Anthony Thompson did at that point.
But he did. He forgave the man who killed his wife. More than that, he wanted this man to know Christ and his forgiveness. Unbelievable. So how in the world was he able to do this? How can a heart be that soft, when it should be so hard?
I believe this is the power of the love of Christ. The God who had every right to exact revenge on us for the list of evils we have done. For the hate, the thoughts, the things in our passed we don’t want anyone to know about. He chose to forgive. He chose to show mercy.
But we may at times think, “That seems too easy. Not Right!” You may rage about justice and getting what is deserved, especially in the case of Dylann Roof.
Well, that's the thing. See it isn’t just that God is merciful, he is also just. And how can he show mercy and justice at the same time?
At the cross we see it. It is why the cross of Jesus is at the same time so brutal and so beautiful. Brutal as the one true Judge exacts justice over any and all sin. Beautiful because what he gives to all who run to the cross is mercy and forgiveness.
I am thankful for the actions and words of Rev. Anthony Thompson for showing us a picture of lavish forgiveness and grace. It's a picture of what God offers to us all through the cross. God bless!