I watched the planes hit the towers on the cool September morning almost 10 years ago. I was just getting ready to take the kids to school, CNN was on, and I watched as America would take the biggest attack in her relatively short history.
More people died than in the attack on Pearl Harbor, and the outrage was universal. The whole world galvanized to support America and reach out to her while she was down.
Last night, the death announcement of the mastermind brought closure to almost 10 years of torment.
People shouted in Time Square.
USA. USA. USA. could be heard all along Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House.
Celebrations erupted around the country.
And "God Bless America" was being sung in the hallways of Universities.
So as believers, what should our response be?
Should we rejoice justice has been brought to events of 9-11?
Should we feel justified?
What of the comments when Jesus claims, "Love your enemies. Do good to those who harm you?" Is there anything we need to learn there?
I must admit, for weeks after 9-11, I had a re-occurring dream where I personally hunted Bin Laden. Every night I woke up in cold sweats after I put the bullet in Bin Ladens Forehead. It was in my dreams, but it still caused me to wonder what was going on in my subconscious. It was a troubling week, and I often wondered, "God, am I feeling right?"
I would read Jesus, love your enemies, but my enemy needed to be brought to justice, right?
Soon after 9-11, I watched the rallies in New York, as millions tried to make sense of innocent killing. They tried to rally together. They tried to call on politics to handle the mess. We read of secret CIA attempts of knowing where Bin Laden was, and we punished the Tora Bora crew for missing him.
Much of my thoughts at the time were emotional. How could someone want to kill innocent people? Why would a religious master mind want to take out civilians? Furthermore, how were we supposed to view Muslims here in America? Let alone the atheists who would crawl out of the woodword claiming all religions are violent and we should do away with God.
It was a dark time to be a Muslim for sure. It was almost as if you had to choose to either be with the terrorists, or with America. I remember sitting with an Imam at Georgetown University and asked him, "I know not all Muslims are terrorists, but why are all the terrorists seemingly Muslim?"
How silly. My thinking of religion was tainted by a rogue group of vigilantly global crusaders. They are the same as the crazy Baptists of Topeka, or the Delusional Pastor in Florida burning sacred books.
But what was I to think of this man Bin Laden?
He was a self proclaimed murderer of thousands? How are we to handle something like this?
The Bible makes a few different claims concerning enemies.
- “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:43-48) – Jesus
- Say to them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! (Ezekial 33:11)
- Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when they stumble, do not let your heart rejoice, or the LORD will see and disapprove and turn his wrath away from them. (Proverbs 24:17-18)
I'm even challenged by some of the great leaders of the past.
May we take caution our emotions don't leap too fast when God's will be done.
May we continue to focus on our primary objective as faith followers, "Go therefore and make disciples to all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. And teaching them to obey all that I have commanded. For I am with you always, even to the end of the age.' Matthew (28:19)