Genesis chapter 1 tells of God’s creation of the world and his evaluation of it: God saw all that he had made, and behold, it was very good. But the tragic shootings in South Carolina in June of 2015 were not good; they were evil. Evil exists all around us-and in us. So it is clear that this world is no longer as God originally created it: something happened. Romans 5 explains: (1) Through Adam sin and death entered creation. (2) Sin infected all creation. (3) All people are sinners. (4) Adam’s sin resulted in condemnation for us all. (5) Sin exerts its rule over people through death.
Sin and death are the curses which are corrupting God’s good creation, as a result of Adam’s sin. This is the biblical explanation of wickedness such as we’ve lately witnessed. No other theory explains it: murderers don’t always lack education or opportunity. They aren’t always mentally unstable. They haven’t always been the victim of abuse at the hands of those they kill. But we all are sinners, and that is the biblical explanation. Jesus tells us where wickedness originates: the human heart. Long ago, theologian and Vice- Chancellor of Oxford University said it perfectly: “The seed of every sin is in my heart.” It is true of each of us, whether we recognize it or not, whether we’ll admit it or not. Jesus said that, in God’s sight, the inward “seed” equals the outward “deed
Our brothers and sisters at Emanuel AME Church know their Bibles; they know thatthey are made up of the same stuff as their killer. When it comes to our hearts, all ofhumanity shares Common Ground. We’re all capable of any evil, because it resides in our hearts. Typically we keep it in check, but every now and then the full wickedness of the human heart is on display. Dylann Roof displayed the depths of human depravity last week in South Carolina. But there’s more: our brothers and sisters at Emanuel have clearly been so deeply transformed by the Scriptures and the gospel of Christ that they are able forgive as their Lord forgave them (Colossians 3:12-13).
Another area of Common Ground which deepens the wickedness of these murders isthe concept of the “races”-so-called “whites,” “blacks,” etc. is a product of ungodly thinking. There is only one race: the human race. God’s Word tells us, “Godcreated man in His own image……Eve was the mother of all the living.”The Scriptures are very clear: every human being is from one pair of parents; we’reall kin. Here’s the simple truth: every human being on earth is brown; we’re justdifferent shades of brown. And it’s all due to the amount of melanin which Godexpressed in each of us. Racists need to hear this. Dylann Roof needed to know this.
Believers whose minds are being transformed by Scripture realize that there at the footof the cross, it’s all Common Ground. We all are one race, one people. We all haveone problem-sinful hearts. We all have only one hope. Shooter and slain alike needJesus Christ. We must not show partiality, because we all of humanity is on CommonGround. There is no distinction between us. But this also is an encouragement: noneof us have done anything to commend ourselves to God. On our own merits, none ofus is closer to salvation, none farther away. We all stand in need of grace. And God equally welcomes all – even Dylann Roof, even me, even you.
The glorious truth is that, someday, sinners from every ethnic group will encircle God’s throne, enjoying the perfect unity and peace that he purchased for us. As we reflect on the tragic slaying of nine peace-loving, forgiving brethren, the glimpseinto heaven afforded by Revelation 7:9 gives us hope not only that there will be an endto this suffering, but that in the ultimate twist of irony, it was through the slaying of theinnocent Lamb of God that the church’s salvation was secured! God truly does displayhis wisdom through his eternal plans and purposes, which center on his church, thefamily of God. That’s marvelous!
The church—those who have been forgiven—must become known as acommunity of forgivers. Emanuel AME Church is doing so through their costly,immediate outpouring of love toward their tormentor. God help us all to do the same.
Application / Challenge
- Reject an unbiblical view of mankind: that we’re innately good and that our problems lie outside of us.
- Repent of any prejudicial views you hold: that in some way you and your“people group” are better than others.
- Accept God’s forgiveness: If you are God’s true child, all your sins have been forgiven.
Resources & Links
Life in the Father’s House: A Member’s Guide to the Local Church by Wayne Mack and Dave Swavely: