On September 11, 2001 a horrible event exposed the vulnerability of our country. Most people remember the event as two plains crashing into two building and their subsequent colapse. Over three thousand people died that day. Horrible. Devastating. Scary.
Our president assured us that we as a nation would recover and would protect ourselves from future attacks by hunting down those responsible. Thus we declared war on Afghanistan and eventually Iraq.
I believe this declaration of war is the horrible event that exposed the vulnerability of our country. The ability to use force to achieve your objective is a dangerous position to find yourself in. It presents options that maybe shouldn't be in the playbook. Now I am not suggesting that America become a nation of pacifists, I am simply wondering how our professed Christianity figures into our response to such a horrible event.
In Matthew 5:7,9 Jesus says, "Blessed are the merciful for they will be shown mercy. . . Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called sons of God."
What I didn't hear on September 11th or the 12th or the 13th was, "We claim to be a Christian nation - we choose to forgive, we choose to show mercy and pursue peace." I must admit, I was furious and I wanted revenge (not one of my better moments as a disciple of Jesus).
It occurs to me that it requires an antagonist to be able to choose peace. It requires an offense to be able to choose mercy. It requires an atrocity to have the opportunity to forgive. These are only ideals until they are actually called upon in a real life event (like Sept. 11th).
In Matthew 5:39 Jesus teaches us to "not resist an evil person. If someone strikes us on the cheek, to offer him the other cheek". And then in verse 44 "Love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you."
I am ashamed not of my anger, or my desire for retaliation, but rather that I didn't hold these emotions up to the light of Jesus' call to love my enemies. I carressed my anger and I wallowed in my desire for revenge for some time before I even considered my pledge to follow Jesus.
Unfortunately, too many Americans with decision making authority found themselves behaving just like me.
Obviously, it is dangerous to follow Jesus. There is no guarantee that showing mercy and forgiving your enemy will keep you safe. After all, Jesus showed mercy and forgave his enemy and look what they did to him.
Why are we as Christians not known for this. After all Christian means "like Christ".