Summary: Challenge we face as Christians - 9/11 and forgiveness and judgement....are we comfortable being Christians?
Soon as I get in from work, I like to get comfortable. I kick of my shoes, strip off my clothes, head for a shower and then put on my normal clothes – denims, t-shirt and trainers – l love to be comfortable and hate wearing shirts of any kind or suits for that matter!
When I sit at night, I don’t have my feet on the floor, I bend my legs and bring them up on the sofa – doing untold damage to my spine, but for me it is comfortable and it’s the way that I like to relax. I love nothing more than when I’m alone in the living room, lights switched off, television on in the background and laptop perched on my knees, with a can of Diet Pepsi and a handful of peanuts – I’m so easily pleased!
Ten years ago, whilst I sat on the telephone in my mother’s house, I was preparing to have conversation with someone based in our Nottingham centre, this person wasn’t renowned for his listening skills – put it this way, I never believed the lift went to the top, if you know what I mean!
As we got into the conversation, I stopped him in mid sentence and suggested that he turned on the television, he wasn’t prepared to do it, but I was insistent. I can remember telling him, “The trivia that you are making an issue about now, is nothing compared to what is happening in the world today, now turn on that damned television!” He did so reluctantly and for the first time, ever and the last time – we were both in agreement, our differences were child’s play in comparison to what was being televised before our very eyes.
Most of you will remember where you were and what you were doing ten years ago today, I was sitting in my mother’s house when the first aeroplane flew into New York’s Twin Towers...the rest is history
All over the world, people were not so comfortable anymore, we all knew this was something big, we all knew that there would be reprisals and we all knew that things would change. Most people knew that the things they took for granted would change – airport security, freedom of expression and the dreaded ‘war on terror.’
Ordinary peoples’ lives would never be quite so ordinary again and if you don’t think your life has been affected think again – your right to protest, demonstrate and march have all been influenced by those fateful events of Sept 11th or 9/11 as it’s known stateside and try airport security, much has changed since that date!
The world was no longer comfortable – America was no longer a nation who viewed her land as impermeable to attack, as terror struck on her home soil and the other world’s countries were waiting for their turn, we had ours in the UK, with London 7/11 and of course Glasgow Airport – the failed terror plot! (An interesting question which arose; did the terrorist die of his injuries in the car or injuries sustained when pulled out of the car by our have a go heroes?)
It’s a terrible feeling when your comfort zone has been altered; it’s a horrible feeling when you are faced with new situations, especially those brought on by fear. New ministers to churches often use the term, ‘getting out of your comfort zone’ as a euphemism for dramatic change – and change scares people, it brings them out of their comfortable existence and challenges them to either embrace new ways or the passing of old...
It’s not the only thing that scares people though – people often get scared by the challenges posed in following Christ and there are many challenges. One of the first things that all Christians should be aware of when following Christ, it’s not going to be comfortable, it’s not meant to be.
Two biblical accounts one on forgiveness and the other on judgement – two challenges set before us today and they are indeed challenging. How can we forgive those who commit heinous acts against us? How can we prevent ourselves from making judgements?
We would not be in our comfort zones if we were to abandon our human responses to life situations. We want to make the terrorist pay – we don’t automatically think forgiveness. We want them to be judged and sentenced passed, all in our favour – just like church changes, we want church to be held in ‘our favour’ our way. We don’t want the challenges set forth to make us uncomfortable but that’s the stark reality – these passages used in this context do make us uncomfortable, they have the potential to open old wounds
If we were found guilty of a misdemeanour we would want mercy, but what if we can’t offer it ourselves? We would want someone to judge us fairly and compassionately, but we may not extend that to others...