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Tony Rossi

Radio Host/Producer

Two Ways of Looking at the World
August 2, 2015

The nine murders that took place at Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, South Carolina, this past June shocked the country and the world. The fact that they occurred in a house of worship during an hour of prayer and Bible study just added to the horror. While we all continue to mourn and pray for the victims and their families, we should also look at the two divergent worldviews that played a role in this situation.

Though the church where the crime took place is known primarily for serving the African-American community, the Bible study group welcomed Dylann Roof, a young white stranger, to join them. In other words, regardless of his color, they looked on him as a fellow human being made in the image and likeness of God. Roof, however, saw no kinship at all with the people around him. He simply wanted “to shoot black people,” thereby denying any kind of common humanity.

And there you have it: two very divergent ways of looking at the world. Either we’re all made in the image and likeness of God and worthy of dignity and respect – or we make ourselves superior to others who are different and believe we have the power to destroy them. 

The former path, the path taken by the church members, is, of course, the best shot we have at achieving any level of peace in this world. Though the idea that America’s founders put into the Declaration of Independence – that “all men are created are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights” – though that idea has become secularized, the members of that Bible study group likely knew that it stems from the book of Genesis, from God’s making man and woman in His own image. Since the Jewish people introduced that concept to society, society has had a hard time living up to it.

Thankfully, we’re more enlightened today, but at the same time, we shouldn’t pat ourselves on the back too much because there’s still plenty of objectifying and dehumanizing going on in the world. There are voices on both the political left and right who will take one statement or action by someone they disagree with, define that person by it, and try to destroy their reputation. There are those who will define an entire group or class of people as bad due to the actions of a few. They are essentially setting those people up as one-dimensional. However, God doesn’t create one-dimensional people; He creates three-dimensional people with minds, hearts, and spirits and everything those elements entail.

That’s how the members of Emanuel A.M.E. Church saw Dylann Roof when he joined them. They were living out their faith and Jesus’s call to “love one another as I have loved you” when they were essentially martyred because of the color of their skin. The content of their character didn’t matter to Roof. He saw them not as created in the image and likeness of God, but as an image and likeness he had created in his own mind based on every negative stereotype you can think of.

As the city of Charleston and the country move forward through this horror, it’s a good time to remember humanity’s common roots, to pray for the wisdom to see people as people and not as labels, and to question anyone that tries to paint an entire group as bad. The future of society depends on it.

 

 

For a free copy of the Christopher News Note, BUILDING A RELATIONSHIP WITH JESUS, write: The Christophers, 5 Hanover Square, New York, NY 10004; or e-mail: mail@christophers.org