As part of a sermon commemorating the lives of the nine people who were killed at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, last year, Pastor Steven Furtick said Christians must continue the conversation about "hatred, race, and the decisions we make every day."
In a message posted to the Elevation Church website on Monday, Furtick, senior pastor of the Charlotte, North Carolina, megachurch is seen standing in front of Emanuel AME Church on the one-year anniversary of the mass shooting that took place on June 17, 2015, when gunman Dylann Roof entered the church and killed worshipers who had gathered together for a Bible study because he said he wanted to start a race war.
Furtick said he chose to stand in front of the church and deliver a message about race, hatred and fear, and the choices Christians make to either live in the heart of God or the heart of hatred.
"What is not healed is handed down" from generation to generation, the megachurch pastor said.
"I think in life, with the recent events in Orlando, and so many of the things that we see happening in the world today as a result of hatred in the human heart, I think it'd be good to continue the conversation," Furtick said, referring to the June 12 mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, that left 49 people dead and 53 others injured.
Continuing this conversation, he said, "allows us to look at our own hearts, our families, our values and make sure that what we're handed down reflects the love of Christ. What we're handed down is helpful to others. What we're handed down is ultimately going to strengthen the world we live in."
Furtick then reflected on a sermon he delivered last June following the AME church shooting, in which he discussed racism, and emphasized that "what does not heal gets handed down."
Sometimes tragedy hits so close to home, he added, that "it breaks your heart," suggesting that through immense pain God's light and glory can shine. "Ground can't produce anything if it's never broken up and neither can your heart."
Furtick then spoke about his late father, whom he said had a racist perspective toward the African-American community. And when his father attempted to pass his racism down to his 12-year-old son, Furtck said that was an example of "what was not healed gets handed down."
It was at that moment that Furtick said he realized it was "in his hands" to make the choice not to carry his father's racism into his generation.
Changing from a racist attitude "starts with change on the inside of each of our hearts," Furtick said, noting that as his father grew closer to God, he gave up his racist feelings.
"When you give God your heart, your broken heart … there's an exchange that happens at the foot of the cross, and He has a way to fill a heart with love that was filled with hate."