The event and memories of 9/11 leave Christians in a difficult position. On one hand, we are called to respect our government and pray for our leaders, meaning we pray for the security of this nation and all actions that work to secure that security. We should pray for victory in Afghanistan and that the Lord would protect our servicemen. At the same time, we are called to make disciples of all nations and to display love towards our enemies, both of which would include the people of Afghanistan and the Taliban (and Al Queda). Thus, Christians are left praying for the victory of the nation, but also praying that Christ would redeem the Taliban and our opponents. Were the members of the Taliban to come to Christ tomorrow, it would be better than if all of them were to be killed; a friend gained is better than an enemy killed.
I think of the quote from St. Clement of Rome, where he wrote to the Corinthians,
“Love binds us fast to God. Love casts a veil over sins innumerable. There are no limits to love’s endurance, no end to its patience. Love is without servility, as it is without arrogance. Love knows of no divisions, promotes no discord; all the works of love are done in perfect fellowship.”
When reflecting on 9/11 we shouldn’t have images of revenge or wish for the death of our enemies. Instead, we should seek opportunities to help those who were deeply affected by the events of 9/11. We should find ways to reach out to our enemy and while praying for our military’s victory, pray even more that our enemy should come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. This is not an attempt to over-spiritualize, but rather a very practical view; how could the Taliban and Al Queda kill our soldiers or bring violence to our shores if they were wrapped up in the love of Christ?
There’s a lot of hurt, a lot of families who were impacted by 9/11. These are people we should be there for and pray for. But let us not lash out at people in our emotion. Rather than burning Qur’ans, why not open them up and read them (and subsequently expose the falsity of Islam)? Instead of condemning Muslims or feeling they are the enemy, why not invite them over for dinner (if they are open) or find a way to befriend them? The most powerful weapon Christians have is that of Trinitarian love, which conquers all. Ultimately, while our nation fights terrorists in far-away lands, at home we must constantly keep in mind that those who are Muslims are not our enemies, but rather slaves to a religious system. They are co-image bearers who are in chains to the Devil, as are all who do not have a relationship with Christ. As Paul wrote in Ephesians 6:12,
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
On 9/11, let us remember such a passage. Let us reflect on the tragedy that was brought to our shores. Let us be there for those who lost someone on 9/11. Let us not take out our pain and emotions on Muslims, even if they support the actions of 9/11. Overall, let us be a beacon in the darkness of this world, an oasis of love in tumultuous desert of this loveless world. Let us display the love of Christ to friend and foe so that we might win both to Christ and receive our eternal reward.
Let us reflect and apply the words of St. Ignatius of Antioch in his epistle to the Ephesians:
“Regarding the rest of mankind, you should pray for them unceasingly, for we can always hope that repentance may enable them to find their way to God. Give them a chance to learn from you, or at all events from the way you act. Meet their animosity with mildness, their high words with humility, and their abuse with your prayers. But stand firm against their errors, and if they grow violence, be gentle instead of wanting to pay them back in their own coin…so that in this way non of the devil’s noxious weeds my take root among you, but you may rest in Jesus Christ in all sanctity and discipline of body and soul.”