Our culture is so varied in its religion, beliefs, and values. There are many people within our culture that believe the old idea; an eye for an eye. Then there are those who believe in forgiveness. Violence, in our society, seems to be a spiral that begins with a reaction to conflict. However, violence doesn’t have to be the reaction to conflict. Instead one could react with peace, understanding, or love. Jesus Christ refused to hate. Jesus was given the death penalty in his culture. He could have fought back in many different situations but instead dealt with conflict with peace and love. Jesus could have asked or commanded that his apostles fight those who would take him to his death. He did not. Jesus Christ instead took the symbol that represented the most violent death possible and conquered it with a quiet peace, forgiving, in his agony, those who crucified, tortured, and killed him. He took the cross, a symbol of death and violence, and transformed it into a symbol of eternal life and ultimate peace.
I tell my students constantly the only thing you can control in this life is your reaction. Choose to make your reaction one of peace and love. Hate begets hate, violence begets more violence but love begets more love. In the broken times of Charleston, South Carolina, they have chosen to react with love, peace, and forgiveness. Those people are Christians who not only gather to share the word of God but live the life of Christ in times of crisis. In a time when most people would react with hate, violence and anger, they are choosing to react as Jesus Christ would react.
The choice is up to you. When you are faced with a conflict as small as frustration on your drive to work, or as massive as dealing with the injustice of others, you can decide how you will react. If you try to live your life in peace, love, and forgiveness you will train yourself to react with these emotions in times of trial. How do you want to react? You can transform your life to do that. Follow Jesus Christ and you will one day be able to react with peace and love.