How little life is valued in our culture today. We are stooping to the level of ISIS by videoing our horrific acts. And yet, Jesus challenges us to love our enemies. Jesus challenges us to forgive. Recently, the people in Charleston showed us all the way to act in the aftermath of horrific evil.
We seek to blame this on the guns or mental illness. The cause isn’t as much the issue as what is our reaction? Will we love? Will we forgive?
It is unpopular to say this, and it is a deeply unsatisfying message for a society steeped in self-absorption and instant gratification. How do you ask a generation that leaves negative Yelp reviews for slow service at Burger King to wait a lifetime, or a century, or forever, for the perfected eschaton? How do you tell a generation accustomed to participation trophies that life is suffering? Even among people of faith, how do you communicate to the recipients of therapeutic Christianity that the probable fate of every single Apostle was martyrdom? How do you tell Americans in particular, inheritors of a national narrative of onward-and-upward, that the Founders they typically ignore were right: the struggle for liberty is endless, renewed with every generation, and primarily a struggle against one’s own self?
A selfie-murder is the ultimate expression of a man who will not be told any of those things, and the frightening thing is that he is not the exception. There is a choice to be made between Post-Charleston forgiveness versus post-Charleston anger, a choice that we have to make over and over and over again. The choice to forgive is tremendously difficult — to hear, and to do. And that is why this thing today will happen again and again.