Last night I worshiped in a black Presbyterian church in a very rural part of Laurens County South Carolina. My children and wife have participated in a youth camp all week that involves people from several races and denominations. This week the camp has gone all over our county doing service projects and mission work in nursing homes, churches, and schools. I sat at the back and enjoyed watching children lead the very mixed crowd of whites, blacks, and Hispanics. They shared songs about Christ, spoke life to us (the camp theme is "Speak Life"), performed a skit, and made the congregation smile. It was pleasant seeing the crowd so racially diverse (very evenly mixed). Black and white pastors led in prayer. We ended the service holding hands and praying. I was happy to grab the hand of a young black man.
This is the spirit that kept our state together the past week. When great trials come, there is always a knee-jerk temptation to focus on the wrong things as quick solutions. Focusing on a flag, throwing out the model car of the General Lee my son and I worked on this winter, tossing my personal DVD copies of the Dukes of Hazzard or Gone with the Wind, renaming army bases, or desecrating or removing statues of Robert E Lee and Stonewall Jackson (or George Washington for that matter - a slave owner) will not solve societal problems. It will actually create more division and cause us to focus on the wrong things.
The spirit that prevailed in Charleston - no riots, no buildings burned, no National Guard - and the spirit that I saw in that rural church last night were because people opened up their hearts to Jesus Christ, His power, His Word, and chose to show love to each other.
Let's not allow the choices of one crazy person bent on wickedness define us - any more than Detroit should be characterized by the murder of 12 black Americans who were killed at a party last Saturday - the likely perpetrator being black gang members.
The apostle Peter wrote, "Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins" (1 Peter 4:8). At the end of the day, "the greatest of these is love" ( 1 Corinthians 13:13). The Bible says that Jesus Christ is the Prince of Peace. And without Him, His rule in our hearts, and His Word and Spirit, there is no peace - regardless of who is running Washington or whether or not we can still buy Bo and Luke's Dodge Charger.