Remember and reflect

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9/11/01 – 19 men full of hatred for ‘the Great Satan’ – America – set out on missions of destruction. 3000 people died and this country was changed. They killed in the name of Allah, their hatred and rage fueled by religious fanaticism and fear. It is not just fringe adherents of Islam that practice hatred in the name of God! We do well to remember, to reflect, and to resist the radical fringe of haters.

Where does religious hatred come from? It grows in a very fertile soil –fear – of a changing world, of those who are ‘different,’ that what we value is being destroyed. All of experience some level of angst when the world around us changes, don’t we?  We wonder about what we have given our lives to. We ponder the kind of world our children will live in. Sometimes it seems like the most precious things to us are being ripped from us. When we stoke those fears, feeding them with endless bad news, conspiracy theories, and mix in political and/or religious rhetoric, we risk becoming belligerent; hateful!

Jesus speaks directly to his followers, forbidding hatred! He says “Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults—unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own.” (Matthew 7:1-3, The Message) We read His words about the two Great Commandments – “Love God with your whole being, and love others as you love yourselves!” There is no room for hating in those commands, is there? Only God can judge and only He can condemn. Why? Because He alone has the full knowledge of the motives and ways of others.

But, “Jerry, when we see the reality of sin and evil, we must respond to it, right?” Yes, absolutely. We would be fools to pretend that we are living in a world that welcomes the ways of Jesus Christ. God is ignored by many, with godless choices shaping our nation. There is a real Enemy of God who actively resists all that is good. The Evil One is sowing his seeds of destruction. But we will not overcome him by using the tactics of hatred and violence. Our response must be different. We can boldly speak to sinful behavior, while holding out the hope of redemption through the love of Jesus!

Ponder Jesus’ words, so often forgotten or laid aside in moments of fear. “You have heard that the law of Moses says, ‘If an eye is injured, injure the eye of the person who did it. If a tooth gets knocked out, knock out the tooth of the person who did it.’ But I say, don’t resist an evil person! If you are slapped on the right cheek, turn the other, too. … You have heard that the law of Moses says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and on the unjust, too.” (Matthew 5:38-45, NLT)

There is but one thing that allows Christians to overcome their fears, that gives them the ability to ‘turn the other cheek’ in the face of hostility. It is knowing the complete security of God’s love, that nothing in this world, no one, at all, can separate us from the promise of God to save and keep.

9/11 changed America – and not necessarily for the good. Christian, it is our call to resist the fear, to unite where there are divisions, to encourage and to be people of hope. On this anniversary of an attack fueled by religious hatred, let’s renew our commitment to change the world with the profound message of God’s love shown us through Christ Jesus.

Our word from the Word is anchoring Truth that lets us do the work of the Kingdom of God. No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from his love. Death can’t, and life can’t. The angels can’t, and the demons can’t. Our fears for today, our worries about tomorrow, and even the powers of hell can’t keep God’s love away. Whether we are high above the sky or in the deepest ocean, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:37-39, NLT)

______________

The Power Of Your Love

Lord I come to You
Let my heart be changed renewed
Flowing from the grace
That I found in You
And Lord I’ve come to know
The weaknesses I see in me
Will be stripped away
By the pow’r of Your love

Hold me close
Let Your love surround me
Bring me near
Draw me to Your side
And as I wait
I’ll rise up like the eagle
And I will soar with You
Your Spirit leads me on
In the pow’r of Your love

Lord unveil my eyes
Let me see You face to face
The knowledge of Your love
As You live in me
Lord renew my mind
As Your will unfolds in my life
In living ev’ry day
By the pow’r of Your love

Geoff Bullock © 1992 Geoff Bullock Music (Admin. by Music Services, Inc.)

CCLI License # 810055

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