It hit me like a freight train when I heard the devastating news of the Charleston shootings. I found my heart heavy with pain for those who lost friends and loved ones, and a church community that lost brothers and sisters. I cannot imagine the grief that they are walking through today. I don’t have any answers, only questions.

I am looking at the picture of Dylann Roof and asking the questions, “Why?” and “Where did this rage all begin?” Looking into his eyes, I wonder what short-circuited his thinking and beliefs about creation, life and God’s greatest work of a diverse humanity. What would cause anyone to hate so deeply that they would go to extremes to feed its appetite? I think of horrible black eyes in our world history like the Crusades, Rwanda, Nazi Germany, the KKK, and Charles Manson and see that hate has been with us for some time.

When I read the reports of the people in Charleston that lost their lives at the hands of this 21-year-old, I feel a seed of hate beginning to root inside my heart, a hate for Dylann Roof. That deeply frightens me.

Where does hate begin and can I identify it before it distorts every part of me? The bible actually tells us that God hates evil and we are to hate evil, but then asks us to not hate others.

1 John 3.15 — Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him.

As I look further into this word hate, it means to “have disdain, a horror of, dislike intensely.” I should be horrified by any seed of hate that begins in my heart of hearts, and attempt to  aggressively remove it from my thoughts. I realize how quickly hate can consume a life that seeks to destroy others. Hate transforms a person into an evil destroyer of life like a lion that tears into its prey without remorse. The prophet Amos and the apostle Paul have some insight on where this destruction begins.

Amos 5.7 — There are those who turn justice into bitterness and cast righteousness to the ground.

Ephesians 4.31 — Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.

If you are a follower of Jesus you know that Satan is set out to destroy you and me. He will use anything to feed the bitterness, rage and hate in a soul to move it far away from God. Satan isn’t wearing a hockey mask or carrying a running chainsaw. The bible describes him as beautiful and a liar. His goal is to destroy a life by distorting a person’s thoughts and beliefs. It puts me on alert.

I don’t know why Dylann Roof committed his crimes of hate. I do know that it started with a seed. I grieve today for those families and friends in Charleston and join with them in hating evil. I pray that God’s promise of taking what is intended for evil and using it for his glory will be true in this case. I am also committed to removing any seed of bitterness from my thoughts so I do not give hate any place to grow in my life.