Summary: Jesus calls us to love our enemies. We need to do this this now more than at any other time in our history. (Written as a response to 11/9, but quite relevant today)
Text: Mt 5:43-48
The last few weeks have been some of the most memorable of our lives. Memorable for all the wrong reasons, but memorable nonetheless. Who will ever forget those terrible pictures of airliners crashing into the towers of the World Trade Center? How many will forget the weight that pressed on our hearts when we realised that this was no accident, but an incident cruelly designed by evil men to kill as many people as possible?
September 11, 2001 has been dubbed ’the day the world changed.’ Many have publicly tried to explain these events. Some people saw it as the judgment of an angry God upon an apostate nation. Others saw it as an attack by Satan upon a godly nation. At its simplest, however, it was an act by human beings who chose to do evil.
The American nation has spent weeks chasing down the people believed responsible for this atrocious act of hatred. And now, after much work, they have begun to wage military war against those implicated.
This week we have seen more images on the T.V. – images of warplanes and naval vessels and all sorts of high tech weaponry which is intended to be used to bring justice to those believed guilty. Usama Bin Laden, on the other hand, has promised to attack those nations which would wage war against him – Australia included.
And this is where we come in. It’s been many years since our nation has been targeted by enemy nations. My generation has not experienced this. In fact, Australian soil has not been attacked since World War II, which finished before my parents were born. That war isn’t even a memory for most of our nation.
Understandably, we feel dislocated. We don’t know how we should be feeling. We don’t know how we should act. One of the things Australians do when they feel scared is to make jokes. It is our way of shaking our fist at adversity, and trying to convince ourselves – and others – that we are not scared. Even now, though, we aren’t sure if we should do that. People don’t want to talk about the threat that terrorists pose to our nation, and I suspect that this is because we don’t know if we should be scared or not. We don’t want to overreact. But we don’t want to be caught napping either.
Today, I want to talk to you from the Bible about what our duty is. I can’t say how we should feel, nor can I tell you what to think about the goings on in the Middle East. All I can do is offer some clues from the Bible which will suggest to you how we should act, and what our duty is as Christians in the days that are to come.
*We should turn to the Lord for protection*
We don’t have much to fear as a nation. We have always trusted in our geographical isolation to protect us from harm. We have a small, but very well trained army with some of the best equipment money can buy. We have a strong economy. Australia has little to fear. Here in Portland, we have even less to fear. I don’t think terrorists are going to worry about Portland too much.
We can trust in our natural strength. But we should be trusting in God for our protection. King David thought he had a magnificent army, and he thought that would keep his nation safe. But that thinking proved to be his downfall. And many times in the Bible we see God favouring the nations that trust him rather than the strength of their armies, religion, and so on.
Let’s trust the Lord for our protection.
Read Psalm 46:1-2, 6-7
*We should love our enemies.*
This is a big one. In the days which followed the September 11 attacks we heard time and time again people on TV saying ’God Bless America.’ Nothing wrong with that! America needs God now as much as at any time in her history.
But what about those responsible for these attacks? God loves them as much as he loves the people that died.
And this is a big part of the difficulty with the teachings of Jesus. He teaches us to love our enemies, not just our friends. Anyone can love their friends. If we didn’t, there’d be something wrong. But Christians have to go that bit further, and love their enemies as well.
Some Christians get a bit confused here, and say that we shouldn’t even have enemies. Unfortunately, there will always be people who don’t like us, and seem to go out of their way to harm us. Even Jesus had enemies, didn’t he? But we are not to hate them.