Christian perspective on 9/11


tcblack's posting on the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and the various media pieces about the events left me once again ruminating on the differences between the Christian and the non-Christian perspective of the world. The differences are staggering, reminding us how set apart we really are.
One difference between Christian and non-Christian is fear. I know a woman who won't walk past the Sears Tower in Chicago for fear of a bombing. But this is not the Christian way. Christians know both the ephemeral nature of their lives and the security of eternity – "And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell (Matt 10:28)." Surrounded by dangers and the inevitable end of death, being merely heartbeats away from it, the perishing wrap themselves in an illusion of security: They bypass the Sears Tower and then thread their blithe way through the much more proximate danger of cars, buses, and cigarettes. But Christians, living in forgiveness and trust and knowing their end, need neither ignore nor fear the temporal dangers by which God may call them to their better home.
Another big difference between Christian and non-Christian is response. The totality of our work on Earth is to love not only our God and our bretheren, but to love our enemies as well. Islam requires its adherents to spread that faith by the sword if necessary; Christians are required merely to turn the other cheek. Our political leaders seek to strike back, to find a target, to capture, to destroy; we are required simply to forgive, to forgive fully. Others curse us; we are to bless them. They kill us; we preach the good news to them. All of Christian work as it has to do with the world is bound up in love, forgiveness, mercy, and evangelism.
From outside, this must seem insanity, but to those within the confines of the faith it is liberation. In being free from hate, we are not consumed by it. In being free from revenge, we are free from its heavy and enduring weight, free from the cycle of retribution. In being liberated from concern for the future, we fall into the security of being held in the hands of he who will not let us fall, and we have the opportunity to live in simple joy in all that we have.
Christianity sets us apart. May we have the grace to live trusting God and loving our enemies.