Faith, Hope And Love Abide. But The Greatest of These Is Love.
Hate is a tool of the devil. It's like a disease that takes hold of a soul and festers, systematically choking out whatever good it is able to find. It can transform a mere man into a monster. And reports are saying that hate may have reigned supreme in a very troubled young man in Charleston, South Carolina when he allegedly entered a church and proceeded to rob the pastor and eight others of their earthly lives.
The chilling Facebook profile photo of the shooting suspect, Dylann Storm Roof, has been circulating like wildfire. While the photo below is swimming in Facebook shares, the picture had only one comment.
After all, what does one say to one suspected of committing such evil? Do you reply with outrage? Horror? Disgust?
All would be natural reactions to this heinous crime. But how do you think Jesus would respond? How did he respond to the sinners he encountered in the Bible? The answer is with love.
The lone comment that existed on Roof's Facebook profile photo (before Facebook removed access to his page) belonged to award-winning gospel musician, Marcus Stanley.
Marcus is a man who has been a victim to hate in his own life. While on tour, he was approached by an individual seeking acceptance into a gang. As an initiation act, this soon-to-be gang member shot Marcus eight times at point blank range.
Miraculously Marcus survived, but suffered temporary paralysis on his right side, lost the ability to walk, and will forever carry a bullet lodged near his spine. But through the grace of God, he can now walk again and has regained most of the feeling in his right arm.
Having experienced such violence in his own life, you might have expected his comment to Roof to be that of bitterness and anger. But God had used Marcus' suffering to bring him a purpose such as described in 1 Peter 3:17:
"For it is better, if it is God’s will, that you suffer for doing well than for doing evil."
And so, when Marcus sat at his computer, confronted with the heinous acts allegedly committed by Dylann Roof, he modeled amazingly Christ-like behavior. He chose to respond with love, hope and forgiveness.
This is what Marcus wrote:
I don't know you, but when I searched for your name from the news outlets it led me here.
You're not captured yet, so there is a chance that you may see this message. I don't look at you with the eyes of hatred, or judge you by your appearance or race, but I look at you as a human being that made a horrible decision to take the lives of 9 living & breathing people.
Children do not grow up with hatred in their hearts. In this world we are born color blind. Somewhere along the line, you were taught to hate people that are not like you, and that is truly tragic.
You have accomplished nothing from this killing, but planting seeds of pain that will forever remain in the hearts of the families that lost their lives and countless hearts around our country.
If you're still out there and you have your phone with you... Give your heart to Jesus and confess your sins with a heart of forgiveness. He is the only one that can save your soul and forgive you for the terrible act that you have done.
I love you Dylann... even in the midst of the darkness and pain you've caused, but more importantly HE loves you.
If you would like to make that confession, then repeat these words.
Dear God in heaven, I come to you in the name of Jesus. I acknowledge to You that I am a sinner, and I am sorry for my sins and the life that I have lived; I need your forgiveness.
I believe that your only begotten Son Jesus Christ shed His precious blood on the cross at Calvary and died for my sins, and I am now willing to turn from my sin.
You said in Your Holy Word, Romans 10:9 that if we confess the Lord our God and believe in our hearts that God raised Jesus from the dead, we shall be saved.
Right now I confess Jesus as the Lord of my soul. With my heart, I believe that God raised Jesus from the dead. This very moment I accept Jesus Christ as my own personal Savior and according to His Word, right now I am saved.
Thank you Jesus for your unlimited grace which has saved me from my sins. I thank you Jesus that your grace never leads to license, but rather it always leads to repentance. Therefore Lord Jesus transform my life so that I may bring glory and honor to you alone and not to myself.
Thank you Jesus for dying for me and giving me eternal life.
God bless you Dylann
Let us follow the example shown by Marcus. Let us pray for the nine lives that were lost that day, and for the families and loved ones left dealing with that loss. Let us pray for a community struggling to make sense of such a horrific crime.
But let us also pray for the shooter. Let us pray that he turns his life over to the Lord – the only one who can heal his heart of such evil.
Let us grieve. But let us also remember that Jesus is the way, the truth and the light. And light shall always overcome the darkness.
"And the light goes on shining in the dark; it is not overcome by the dark." John 1:5
Watch Marcus' inspiring story here:
Watch Marcus beautifully play "How Great Is Our God"
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