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How are we to respond?

Salvation Mountain, Colorado Credit: slworking2/Flickr/Creative Commons

Salvation Mountain, Colorado Credit: slworking2/Flickr/Creative Commons

In mid-October, a small Presbyterian church in Mayesville, South Carolina was vandalized with Satanic graffiti that included crosses drawn upside down, pentagrams and  the word “Satan.”

There were over 20 pieces of graffiti spray painted on Salem Black River Presbyterian Church and two of its other buildings. One door was also broken open but nothing was stolen from the church.

It was simple act of malicious vandalism.

But the church had security cameras and caught video of four people vandalizing the church with the satanic imagery.

After police distributed images captured from the video, people began to call in names of the suspects.  The Sumter County Sheriff’s department discovered that all four allegedly involved in the vandalism were from the nearby Shaw Air Force Base.

The sheriff’s office have charged four people, Kayla Eilerman, Daveion Green, Clayre Savage and Brandon Munoz, with vandalism, trespass and conspiracy.

Meanwhile in Canada, this past August, Trinity Baptist Church located in Burlington, Ontario was set on fire. The fire destroyed the old part of its building, but the fire department was able to save the church’s new section.

There was also graffiti spray painted on its wall in three different spots reading “ISIS” and “ISIS will remai” without the ‘n’.

As Christians we aren’t used to this type of thing common in many parts of the world.

So how are we to respond?

Hopefully, you are not like me. My first reaction when I read these stories was anger.

But my reaction contrasted sharply with Christ’s words on the cross when He prayed:

34 “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” And they cast lots, dividing up His garments among themselves. (Luke 22:34 NASV)

Jesus prayed that God would forgive the Roman soldiers who had not only put Christ on the cross, but had spit on Him, mocked and beat Him. They also jammed a crown of thorn on Christ’s head.

The soldiers had no idea what they were doing.  They were treating Jesus as they would any man condemned to death. As they waited for Christ’s slow death, the soldiers gambled for the Lord’s tunic.

But as this was happening below, Jesus prayed that God would forgive these soldiers and others for what they had done. In fact, Isaiah prophesied this very thing about the Messiah:

Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great,
And He will divide the booty with the strong;
Because He poured out Himself to death,
And was numbered with the transgressors;
Yet He Himself bore the sin of many,
And interceded for the transgressors. (Isaiah 53:12 NASV)

Notice the last line of this verse — He “interceded” for the transgressors.

While my natural response was one of anger, God not only wants us to forgive those who persecute us, but the Father desires we go the next step and intercede for them.

And we are not to pray hell and damnation, we are to pray God forgives them.

As we ask God to forgive, I believe it can break off strongholds allowing people to respond to the Gospel:

54 Now the centurion, and those who were with him keeping guard over Jesus, when they saw the earthquake and the things that were happening, became very frightened and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!” (Matthew 27:53 NASV)


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