It was the first day of preschool. I was teaching eager and adorable three year olds. My first born was three weeks into kindergarten and my middle son was to begin his day at the school where I would be teaching. We began like any normal day: new back packs lined up in the hallway, mom’s taking pictures, a few nervous tears- you know the routine. It was not far into our day that reports of planes flying into buildings in New York began to surface. As teachers, we whispered to each other, not wanting to alarm children, but with each passing moment, we began to be alarmed ourselves. It was everything I could do not to grab my middle, rush to the elementary school and pull my oldest and hole up in our house. I wanted some security that it would all be okay, and none was found.
I’m sure you remember your own 9/11 moment too. It’s impossible to forget. In the 12 years that followed our reactions have changed though, haven’t they? For some patriotism and remembrance of the victims and hero’s from that day have been central. For others fear and hatred have reigned. Some argue the facts of the day; others wage political war on one party or the other. I have wandered in and out of many of these thoughts, feelings and responses. My emotions run high when the montage of photo’s and video footage from that day play across the news or internet. It was a tragic day in so many ways. And as in all tragedy, it revealed what is most important to us:
Life, freedom, peace, justice.
“For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against spiritual forces of evil….” – Ephesians 6:10
“But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…” – Luke 6:10
“So from now on we regard no one from a wordly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ this way, we do so no longer. Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself in Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting mens’ sins against them. And he gave us this ministry of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us.” – 2 Corinthians 4:16-20
There is a battle going on every day. 9/11 showed us a piece of the battle, but in our outrage over the injustice I think sometimes we’ve misnamed the players. Our battle is not against our fellow man. Our enemy is not of this world. We are not primarily Americans who happen to be Christians. We are Christians who happen to be American. I love my country- but not more than I love my King. He has given me a ministry made crystal clear in 2 Corinthians 4:
In that one word is found life, freedom, justice and peace. In our sins we were God’s enemies- yet in Christ we were made sons and daughters- adopted in love. We have new life. We were slaves to sin, the Bible teaches, but by Christs death we have been given freedom. We have peace by the cross, and justice was handed out at the cross. And we follow a Savior who lived out every word He spoke to us. A Savior who while on the cross, asked God to forgive the very non-repentant, abusive and unjust men who put him there. And now, we have a choice. Do we turn to those whom God is seeking out and present a message of shame? A message of “you better work hard to pay for what you’ve done”? A message of hate or anger? Or do we breathe in deeply the grace offered to us as Christians and exhale out good news for all? Do we echo Paul’s words in verse 21 of 2 Corinthians and say to a lost and broken and often hate-filled world
“We implore you on Christ’s behalf- be reconciled to God.”
“May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord my Rock and my Redeemer.” – Psalm 19:14