It will be 11 years this Tuesday since the most horrific attack on American soil since Pearl Harbor.
Many of us remember exactly what we were doing that Tuesday morning. I was leaving a breakfast meeting in a suburb of Detroit when the owner of the restaurant grabbed my arm and pointed me toward the tiny black and white television he always had on the local news and morning show.
“They’re attacking New York City,” he exclaimed.
It would be days before we truly understood all that was taking place on that fateful day. But as we watched the events of Sept. 11, 2001, unfold before our eyes, almost all of us understood one thing. The world in which we were living was changing right in front of us. It would never again be the same.
We still are embroiled in war overseas as a result of the attacks of 9/11. Many of you have loved ones deployed. Others have lost loved ones. All of us have been impacted in some way. And we wonder what to do.
Our first response is to get mad, and then seek to get even. But as Christians, many of us know that Jesus said, “If anyone strikes you on one cheek, turn the other to him.” We wonder if we should do that as a nation. Many have built a pacifist theology on Jesus’ words.
But we also read in the Bible, “Let justice roll down like waters.” We know that we are to seek justice. Instinctively, we realize that the state has not only the right, but the responsibility to protect its citizens from threats, both within and without. And yet we still wonder how we should act. What does the Christian do?
First, we are to pray for our enemies. That is one of the hardest things to do, but God has instructed us to do just that. We also must remember that our first allegiance is to the Lord, not to the state. Either Jesus is Lord of all, or he is not Lord at all.
Still, I believe it is possible to be a good citizen of the state and a faithful servant to the Lord. I am grateful for all who have served in our military. There is no way that the people of this great country can adequately say thanks for your service. But we truly are grateful. I am even more grateful to the one who gave his life so that I might enjoy freedom, not only in this world, but for all eternity. He died so that I might live forever. There is no way to thank him enough.
As we reflect on the sobering events of 11 years ago, we must be grateful for all who have served that we might be free. But even more, we thank God for his grace and mercy. He is good beyond measure. He is good beyond our imagination. And we owe him our very lives.