Saturday, September 11, 2010

Love Always Wins

It was a crisp, warm, sunny morning in New Orleans, Louisiana. The events of that day are forever branded in our minds and the images of that fateful day will be recalled in our memories every year on September 11 until the day that we depart. The whirlwind of emotions that we felt on that day and even today, looking back are just that….a whirlwind. Depression. Anger. Bitter sorrow. Fear. Feelings of superiority, pride, humility. If you are anything like me, you probably experienced all of these emotions, feelings and more.

I have often wondered, what God was thinking and feeling on that awful day in history. For a short time, I thought for sure that God was angry that someone would attack his homeland. That people who didn’t even believe in him would destroy his chosen people. I thought that God would surely execute judgment on those who hurt him, on those who hurt his people. And I believed that the instrument that he would choose to bring about justice would be the ones who were attacked. I believed that he would want us to find those who were responsible track them down and destroy them. I would not have said any of these things with my mouth, but I believe my thoughts and actions said them loud and clear.

Today, as I sit and reflect upon that day, my life and the Creator God, I am embarrassed and humbled.

I am embarrassed because over these past few years, I have begun to realize how much I did not know this God that I had committed to following with my life. I was following a god who was confused. I was following a god who was a contradiction. I was following a god who I thought was on my side because I live in America. It turned out that I was actually following a god who hated the same people that I hated. A god who had murder and revenge in his heart, just like I did – which in turn was also what the men who flew the planes into the towers had in their hearts. I was following a god who was full of wrath and anger, disappointment and hate.

Nine years later, I am humbled and happy to say that I do not follow that god anymore. For the last 9 years, I have been on a journey towards the God of the Bible and his son, Jesus. The more I come to know this God, the more I am convinced of what he was doing on the 11th day of September in 2001. Some might say that it is naïve to know what God was doing on that day, but in the New Testament, Jesus says that those who have seen him, have seen God. So, all I really have to do, is look to Jesus to get an idea.

And when I look at Jesus, I see love.

One of my favorite authors writes, “The Kingdom of God always looks like Jesus dying on the cross for the ones who were nailing him to it.” On the day of the crucifixion, as Jesus hung suspended between heaven and earth, he cried out to his father, God and asked him to forgive the men who were torturing and killing him. Have you ever wondered if God did forgive them? I believe the more we know Jesus, the more convinced we will be that indeed, in that moment, God did extend forgiveness.

Jesus never fought violence with violence. He told Peter to put down his sword when the armed guards came to arrest him in the garden and Jesus willingly handed over his life and laid down his rights, power and will and allowed evil, violent men to execute him. And then, he took upon himself all of the evil and injustice of the world, took their best shot – death – and in the most unbelievable act in the history of forever, he snickered in the face of his enemy, in the face of violence in the face of injustice and said, “Is that all you’ve got?” and he came back from the dead.

It is because he came back from the dead that we can now be filled with his life. It is because he came back from the dead that we are set free from fighting violence with more violence – which only continues the vicious cycle – and we can be people of love and forgiveness, mercy and peace.

On the day that those planes were headed for those towers, I believe that Jesus was praying. I believe that he was praying for those on the airplanes who were filled with terror. I believe he was praying for those in the towers who had no idea what was coming. I believe he was praying for families and loved ones. I believe he was praying for those misguided men who were guiding their missiles towards the towers. I believe he was praying for you and me.

I wish Jesus would have stopped those attacks on that day. I don’t know why he didn’t. I wish he had.

But since he didn’t, that means he watched it unfold just as I did and I have to believe that he wept bitterly as he watched it, just as I did.

As I orient my life around this Jesus, today is a day that I remember and I pray. I remember those lost and the loved ones they left behind. I pray for those who lost so much on that day.

I also pray for love and peace and more people who will turn towards these things. As I wrote earlier, fighting violence with violence only leads to more violence. But Jesus taught us a way to fight violence that ultimately brings about heart and life change. To fight violence with love is no easy task, but it is the way of Jesus and he has already proven that it works and in the end – love always wins.

Today – may love rule in your family, your relationships, your life and in your heart.

More 9/11 Reflections:

Remember 9/11 - Chad Estes


Crispin Schroeder said...

Great reflections on 9/11 Brian! I too feel like I've been on the same journey. I love that quote. Very true. Very humbling.

Chad Estes said...

Great post, Brian, and a great journey.

Pi Man said...

Very nice, Brian. Thanks for that post. I was teaching a math class at Hahnville High School when the attacks happened. The administration had other teachers quietly and privately come by each room and tell the teacher in that room.... Being a Marine Corps veteran and a native of New York State, I was stunned. I cannot tell you the anger and sorrow that I felt, that in some dimensions still feel. I remember weeping in my church the Sunday afterward, with so many emotions inside....So this is very timely and appropriate, so again, thank you. Peace, TA

LBerteau said...

Well said.

Like you, the association I had with that event was vengeful and hate-filled. Also like you, God has brought me very far from that place today. Although I'm still sad, I'm no longer angry.

I purposely stayed away from any 9/11 retrospectives on television this last week or so. I didn't want to hear any country musicians talk about how we haven't kicked enough ass yet. I didn't want to hear any hollywood actors mention how there were "no WMDs in Iraq." I think hearing anything like that would have just made me sick.

This post was a reminder of who Jesus really is and of what following after him looks like.

Thanks for posting a 9/11 retrospective that I didn't expect.

rallen said...

A friend of mine, Charles had nine sons. One of his sons in a fight with another brother shot and killed his brother. The other seven brothers wanted the murdering brothers head on a silver platter. Charles hated the sin that John had committed but loved both the dead son and the living son, John. In love Charles forgave John and in love Charles succeeded in keeping John from spending one day in jail. When Charles died and after everyone had left the grave sight; seven sons took turns spitting on his lowered coffin.

jeansonne said...

Very sad point, Robert (rallen). I think if you were to ask those 7 sons, they would probably say that love is a good thing...sometimes.

What I am learning is that we all like the idea of loving others, but only when it serves us best.

The thing is, Jesus didn't ask us just to love when it served us best or just to love people like us. He just said (and showed) love to all people.

I am sad that this man had to go through such a horrific experience of one son murdering another, but he certainly approached it with a fathers love. I hope the seven sons one day can see this and certainly hope that none of these 7 sons ever have to experience the same kind of thing with their own children.