The cold-blooded murder of nine innocent souls studying the Bible in their own church was devastating. It was devastating for their precious families, the city of Charleston and for America.

The reason? Pure hate, in its vilest form.

The reaction? Powerful love, in its purest form.

Our hearts are broken for the families, and we’re praying for God’s grace upon them.

What we’ve found interesting, though, is the stark difference between the reactions to tragedy in Charleston compared to reactions in Baltimore just a few months ago.

In Baltimore, thousands filled the streets “riot ready” and burned cars, broke windows, beat-up people and even killed more. It was total lawlessness, filled with hatred and violence.

In Charleston, thousands filled churches “redemption ready” and bowed in reverence, hugging and praying, young and old, black and white. It was peaceful and prayerful. And although there was grieving – the grief has been filled with healing, hope and even forgiveness.

In a video to the killer, the daughter of one of the Charleston victims, Ethel Lance, said, “I will never be able to hold her again, but I forgive you.”

The sister of another victim, Depayne Middleton, said, “Depayne taught me that we are the family that love built. … We have no will for hating. May God bless you.”

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Even our president noticed these grace-filled reactions, tweeting, “In the midst of darkest tragedy, the decency and goodness of the American people shines through in these families.”

Isn’t it nice, Mr. President, when true Christian faith takes the lead in a city? You can just sit back and tweet about goodness instead of working with a governor to send in the National Guard.

The reason is because the Spirit of the Lord is leading the response in Charleston.

“Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” (2 Corinthians 3:17).

These families, motivated by their faith in Jesus Christ, are showing our nation how to respond in the face of evil, because the Spirit of Christ is in them. They’re providing us with a picture of the “Way” forward, out of the clutches of hatred and violence and into the arms of love and freedom.

Yet what we saw from those leading the response in Baltimore was nothing more than godless hysteria, coupled with political posturing and blame shifting. Thank God for the churches and leaders that did step up and try to lead with prayer and peace.

We in America have to understand that violence fills the void of godlessness. When we remove God and His truth – His standards for morality – and become corrupt as a nation, violence of unprecedented order is inevitable. Even when good-hearted people lead – but reject God – they are no match for violence when it is full-blown in the heart of a man.

“Now the earth was corrupt in the sight of God, and the earth was filled with violence” (Genesis 6:11).

It’s time to get back to being one nation under God again, instead of one nation without God.

Do you realize that there are steps we’ve taken as a nation that have opened the door to the violence? Here’s one:

Take a look at the Supreme Court opinion in Planned Parenthood vs. Casey:

“At the height of liberty is the right to define ones own concept of existence, of the meaning of the universe and the mystery of human life.”

With this statement the highest court of our land declared that America no longer relies on the historic standards of truth according to the Bible. God was out – man was in, and man decides for himself what is right and wrong.

Years ago, one of the Columbine killers, Eric Harris, posted on his computer just before walking into Columbine High School and killing 13 students: “My belief is if I say something it goes. I am the law, and if you don’t like it you die … feel no remorse, no sense of shame.”

This was his definition of existence and the meaning of the universe. The killer in Charleston defined his own existence, too – in racist hatred. He feels no remorse, no sense of shame.

So how to we get back as a nation?

Once again, the families of Charleston show us the way. We can’t say it any better than Anthony Thompson, a relative of victim Myra Thompson, said to the killer:

“Take this opportunity to repent. Repent. Confess. Give your life to the One that matters the most – Christ – so that He can change you and change your ways no matter what happened to you, and you’ll be OK. Do that and you’ll be better off than you are right now.”


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