After the horrific church shooting in Charleston, many are calling for Christians to start carrying weapons to church. One GOP Presidential candidate, pastor Mike Huckabee even said, “It sounds crass, but frankly the best way to stop a bad person with a gun is to have a good person with a weapon that is equal or superior to the one that he’s using.”
While we can applaud Huckabee’s conscience for admitting how crass his statement sounds, we must also point out how decidedly anti-Christian it is, too.
Thankfully, we don’t have to look much further than the Christians who were the victims of this shooting for a better example of how an actual follower of Jesus responds to violence.
“No matter how much hate there is in the world, it’s no match for love” Chis Singleton, son of slain Sharonda Singleton, said. “Love is always stronger than hate.”
And the daughter of Ethel Lance, addressing the killer directly in court, said, “I will never talk to her ever again. I will never be able to hold her ever again. But I forgive you.”
She added: “You hurt me, you hurt a lot of people. May God forgive you.”
Anthony Thompson, husband of the slain Myra Thompson, echoed Lance’s daughter’s words. “I forgive you, my family forgives you,” he said.
Felecia Sanders, the grandmother who shielded her 5-year-old granddaughter from the gunfire, but lost her son in process, told the killer that the parishioners “welcomed you Wednesday night at our Bible study with open arms.”
She continued, fighting tears: “You have killed some of the most beautiful people that I know… And it will never be the same. But as we said in Bible study, we enjoyed you. May God have mercy on you.”
Alana Simmons, granddaughter of victim Daniel Simmons, said: “Although my grandfather and the other victims died at the hands of hate…everyone’s plea for your soul is proof that they lived and loved and their legacies will live on.”
“Hate won’t win,” she concluded firmly.
A relative added, “I am a work in progress and I acknowledge that I am very angry. But we are the family that love built. We have no room for hate so we have to forgive.”
While Christians like Huckabee can only suggest bigger and more powerful weapons to solve problems like hate and violence, these dear followers of Jesus – the ones most directly injured by the murders – have demonstrated what the most powerful weapons against hate really are – Love and Forgiveness.
Now, imagine a world where Christians carry guns to church. Imagine a scenario like the one in Charleston where the killer enters and is shot to death by a minister of the Gospel of Jesus. What sort of message would that send? Certainly not one of mercy, and grace, and love. How would that bear witness to the power and the truth of the Gospel? Not at all.
The pastor who lost his life in Charleston can stand before His Lord and Savior in Eternity and hear the words, “Well done, my good and faithful servant” because the evidence of the Gospel he preached is now on display in the midst of this tragedy for the entire world to see.
This is why Christian nonviolence makes sense. This is why Jesus commanded His followers to overcome evil with love, not with more evil.
The killer wanted to start a civil war between the races. If Christians listen to people like Huckabee, the killer will get exactly what he wanted.
But if Christians listen to their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, then the killer and everyone else will, instead, experience the uncommon, otherworldly, extravagant enemy love that only Jesus can teach us.
May the whole world take notice of what a real follower of Jesus looks like in America today. They are the loved ones of those who were gunned down by hate, but they are also the family that love built, and they have no room for hate, only for love.
Thank you for showing us what the love of Jesus looks like in the real world.
Keith Giles is an author, blogger and freelance copywriter in Orange County, California. WHAT IS SUBVERSIVE? It’s a systematic overthrow of one system or power by those working from within. Jesus said the Kingdom of God was immediately accessible to all who follow Him. This is the Gospel message. This is subversive.