This is Today’s South Carolina! This is My South Carolina: I Think the Apostle Paul Would Be Proud

Posted: June 19, 2015 in 46-1 Corinthians

1 Corinthians 6:1-6 — The world expects disputes. That’s why we have court systems. That’s why we have police. That’s why we have lawyers. But Christians are not supposed to be like the world. We are to operate from a position of Christ-likeness. We are to operate from a motive of love. Paul tells us that we should resolve our disputes among ourselves knowing the values that we are to live by. If we squabble among ourselves and let it spill out into the world around us and speak spuriously of each other, then what does the world see in us – nothing different from what they are seeing everyday in the world.

It is ironic that I run across this passage on a day after watching how South Carolinians have reacted to the shootings in Charleston. The expectation of the media around the country is that Charleston will become another Baltimore or another Henderson, MO. The reaction in those places has been a far cry different in my home state, of which I am very proud at this moment. I think it has to do with the fact that South Carolinians for the most part still adhere to Christian values. Instead of hate, Charleston has pulled together. Instead of being stirred up by the media wanting this to be a powderkeg situation, South Carolinians, and particularly Charlestonians, have made this about unity. It was testament to how far our state has come in the last 50-60 years to see blacks and whites hugging and crying together, praying together, and worshiping together. For all the bad things that have made up our past, I am very proud of the Christian values being displayed by this state that I love so much and at this moment cannot see a better place to live. Our people have displayed the Christian values of unity and forgiveness that Paul is speaking of in this passage. Paul says we must. We have to be different from the world around us. We cannot allow ourselves to be goaded into the vengeance seeking that the world expects. When we degenerate into tearing each other apart all we are left with is destruction.

Ask people in France and England after Hitler was defeated. Did they feel like they had won anything from the dispute as they walked among bombed out buildings and debris everywhere. Go to Newark, NJ and Watts, CA 50 years after race riots destroyed vast portions of those cities, where the cities have not recovered. Did they win anything with hate? That is why I am proud of my state. We are a people who believe in Christian values. Charlestonians, black and white, joined hands instead of holding fists in the air at each other. Maybe, it is because we have learned so much from the hatred of our past that we are determined that our future will never be that way again. We knew the world would be watching. It was quite moving yesterday to hear the mayor of Columbia, a black man, at a prayer vigil talk about what he saw in the congregation at the church where the vigil was held. He said I see blacks and whites sitting together. I see blacks and whites praying together. I see blacks and whites crying together. He said, “This is my South Carolina.” It is a modern day example of what Paul speaks of in this passage.

He berates the church at Corinth for suing each other in the secular courts over little stuff that could easily be resolved among themselves. He basically is saying, what are you showing the world by doing this? You are showing them that you are no different than their normal expectations of the world. There are those who want to see strife among Christians so they can say, “Look, they are no different than we are!” Is this the message that you want to send? Our message should be one of harmony and willingness to respectfully work our differences with one another in love. If we have love for one another, then going the way of legal disputes is unnecessary. We we lie, cheat and steal from one another we are not exemplifying the life of Christ. We are not living in a manner worthy of what He died for. The marking characteristic of Christ followers should be to love one another, to have grace for one another, to work through our disputes with one another without letting it spill out into the streets. Our Savior while hanging on the cross in excruciating pain forgave those who put Him there. Can we not do the same among ourselves? Can we not do the same with others?

This is why I am forever a South Carolina boy and always will be. This is my South Carolina. This is the South Carolina that I live in. It has been on full display in the jewel of South Carolina, Charleston. Unity instead of the expected division. Love instead of the expected hate. Faith instead of the expected hopelessness. Tears of common pain instead of fists of separating anger. Joy knowing that the victims are celebrating in the presence of almighty God rather than hopelessness at their lives being ended. Prayers for the soul of accused rather than throwing rocks at him. Desire to further bring the races closer together rather than farther apart. This is my South Carolina. A people choosing Christ-like values of love, unity and forgiveness in contrast to the expectations of the world that has come to visit us in the aftermath of the shootings. Paul would be proud.

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