Summary: On the weekend we observe the 9th anniversary of 9/11, and the 8th birthday of Wildwind Church, we take a moment to reflect on the fear and hatred that are mounting in our society today, and contrast it with God's clear call to love.
Love. And Hate.
Wildwind Community Church
September 12, 2010
September 12, 2010. Yesterday of course was the 9th anniversary of the worst terrorist attacks in American history. We were all there. We all remember exactly where we were, and what we were doing, when we first heard the news. We will never forget it. I have been surprised to find that the horror of that day has never moved far below the surface for me. It never takes more than a few seconds of really remembering it, really thinking about it, and I find myself right back there, recalling vividly the images of that day. I think most Americans probably feel the same way. I remember the very intense feelings of unity in our country in those days after the attack. We had experienced something together that – for a period of time – defined us as Americans. I remember walking through stores, looking at other people, feeling like I was in a daze, and sensing that other people looked like they were too. I remember the pride I felt when I’d see someone wearing a shirt with an American flagged, emblazoned with the words, “These colors don’t run.” I even remember the conversations I had with Christy in those days. They were days where I felt I had to do something. I had to make a difference somehow. I even thought about joining the military. Seriously. And I know I’m not alone in that. There was a brokenness and a vulnerability in our country that was beautiful, filled as it was with the pain and grief of three-hundred million people. The world felt our pain and mourned with us – at least most of the world did. If there’s one thing you can count on, it’s that the hearts of most people go out to the underdog, to the one who is suffering, who has suddenly experienced a sharp blast of pain and who, for the moment, lies bleeding. And that was us for a time. Broken and bleeding. Dazed and confused.
But the brokenness didn’t last long. After all, we are Americans, and this is the United States of America. These colors don’t run, remember? Just beneath that tender grief was something else – burning anger. Desire for revenge. Fantasies of payback. Burning anger. Desire for revenge. Fantasies of payback. Burning anger. Desire for revenge. Fantasies of payback.
Hard to bulid a Biblical, or even quasi-Biblical, sermon on that. Unless of course you base it on a couple of passages in the Old Testament. Hard to find any Jesus in it at all, though. It’s hard to find because that’s not where Jesus is. Now I’m not being critical here. I’m not suggesting that I myself wasn’t filled for a time with burning anger. With a desire for revenge. With fantasies of payback. I was. Most of us were. That’s a natural place to be after the shock and trauma we had experienced. The problem my friends is that many never moved beyond it. Anger, revenge, and payback are normal responses, but they are purely human responses. They come from the lizard brain – that part in all of us that simply wants to fight. They are meant to alert us to danger – they are not meant to become our personal philosophy of life. They are the worse angels of our nature – precisely the things that spirituality – a clear view of God and God’s activity in the world – are meant to overcome, to redeem, and to transform.
Love is the law. Let me rephrase that. Love is not the law if we refuse to move beyond the lizard brain. Love is not the law if we choose to live in fear. Love is not the law for those who call themselves Christians but choose to accept in themselves attitudes of prejudice and bigotry. But love is the law for all who wish to be followers of Christ – for those who wish to know and experience God deep in their bones – for all who desire that God’s kingdom would actually be on earth as it is in heaven. Jesus said,
Matthew 22:34-40 (NIV)
34 Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together.
35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question:
36 "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?"
37 Jesus replied: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'
38 This is the first and greatest commandment.
39 And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'
40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."
All the law and the prophets. In other words, this is what all of it is pointing to. This is what it’s all about. The Apostle Paul understood these words from Jesus and stated it like this: