Summary: The sermon was given at a special community prayer service at Lakeview High School the day after the terrorist attack of 9-11. It addresses the reality of our anger and how to constructively use that anger for good.
"America’s Response to Terrorism’s Attack"
Pastor Daniel B. Barker
The greatest terrorist attack in the history of our nation unfolded before our very eyes on Tuesday, September 11, 2001. The unthinkable became reality. The World Trade Center towers, standing 100 stories high above the New York City skyline, crumbled to the ground one hour after being hit by two commercial airliners flown by terrorist highjackers. Almost simultaneously a crashed terrorist driven plane also hit the Pentagon. Some are calling it, “America’s second Day of Infamy.” These acts of terrorism have changed our world forever. Life in America will never be the same. More than a crime, these were acts of war! President Bush called it, “the evil acts of a faceless coward.” Undoubtedly, the death toll from these terrorist attacks will produce the greatest number of casualties the United States has ever experienced in any other military encounter, outnumbering Pearl Harbor and D-Day. Our nation is gripped with fear, confusion and anger.
WHAT WILL BE OUR RESPONSE TO THESE SENSELESS ACTS?
A gentleman from our church approached me following a prayer service we conducted last night, bothered by the fact that he was feeling so much anger. Knowing the scripture tells us to forgive, he felt his anger was inappropriate. An investigation of scripture shows us that God gives us permission to be angry at a time like this.
“Be angry, and do not sin, do not let the sun go down on your wrath.” Ephesians 4:26
“Be angry…” Anger is a God given emotion. It has a good purpose. There is a good reason why God gave us the ability to experience anger. Anger is “God’s warning signal” that something wrong, something inappropriate is happening…preparing us to make an appropriate response. All of us will agree that yesterday’s attack on civilians with the intent of destroying many innocent lives is horrifically wrong! President Bush referred to America’s “quiet and unyielding anger,” during his speech to the nation last evening.
And so, being angry at a time like this is normal, even good. The question is not, “Should we be angry?” but rather, “What do we do with our anger?” What is an appropriate response?
“…do not sin…” What we do with our anger is our responsibility. God tells us to be angry but not to sin in our anger. He wants us to take our anger and do something constructive with it. Abraham Lincoln saw the injustice done to black slaves when he was a teenager and in his anger he said, “Someday I will do something about this!” His anger motivated him to do something good when he saw the evil around him.
Ways we can sin in our anger:
1. We can deny our anger, and stuff it, or ignore it. “I’m a Christian, I shouldn’t be feeling anger!” This doesn’t change the fact that legitimate anger is still there and that anger will manifest itself in other ways in our lives…ways that are unhealthy.
2. We can allow our anger to turn into hate. When anger is not given a healthy outlet, it will turn into resentment and bitterness…even hatred. Hating the people who did this will do more harm to us than it will to them. Now is not the time for racial prejudice.
3. We can become aggressive, and take matters into our own hands. Lashing out at all Arabic people, wishing to inflict harm on others or carrying out our own “hate missions,” and reduce ourselves to the level of those who have sinned against us.
Ways we can constructively use our anger.
4. We can desire justice. I believe it is normal and healthy for us to have a sense of justice that cries out for consequences for evil acts. This is certainly not a time for indifference or ambivalence! There cries out from the soul of America a call for justice to be served. A desire for justice is a desire for the safety of our children, our families, and our society. I believe America expects our government to respond to this aggression; I believe America needs to see our government respond! But instead of taking matters into our own hands let us allow those in authority to take the appropriate actions to bring those responsible to justice. God has ordained governmental authority to deal with evil, as Paul clearly stated in Romans 12.
5. We can use our energy and resources for good. Firefighters from Seattle and Arizona have gone to NY to help with rescue efforts. We can call the Red Cross and give blood. We can send financial relief to hurting and people devastated by loss and grief. We can support our President and our military personnel. We can cooperate with what will surely be, more stringent measures of security throughout our nation in the days ahead. Take the energy of anger and do good!