Words that mean a lot to me may have very little impact on you. The name “Linda Lovelady” brings a smile to my face (and makes my blood run hot). Those words may not resonate with you, but she is my wife; the one woman I chose to spend my life with.
But if I say, “Nine eleven,” many of you will lean back in your chair and take pause as you reflect on an event that changed our world. We were glued to the TV, horrified at the pictures. Hours. Days. Weeks. Many of us can still see the gruesome carnage as if it happened yesterday.
We still bow our heavy hearts and heads in memory of those who lost their lives in the towers, the Pentagon, and the crashing planes. They had no choice. Work, circumstances, perhaps tourism caused them to be at the wrong place at the wrong time without any suspicion of the sinister forces that would snuff out their lives.
But there were others. Firefighters, law enforcement, emergency medical personnel—all kinds of first responders who chose to go into those fiery infernos. There were men and women who sifted through toxic rubble after the rescue mission became a recovery mission. Many of these others sacrificed themselves—not because their jobs demanded it, but because they were trying to be a neighbor and show mercy to those who desperately needed it (Luke 10:36-37).
We had a prayer service the evening of 9/11. There were the expected requests: comfort for the families of the victims, safety for the workers, reassurance that the USA was going to be okay, and peace to replace the fear that disgorged itself on us. But then a teenager in the group I was leading added, “We need to pray for the families of those who attacked us.” It would be easy to dismiss that as the naive ramblings of a kid, but he got the idea from a book he had been reading.
You have heard the law that 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 the unjust alike. If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. – Jesus of Nazareth, Matthew 5:43-47
I think that kid was reminding us of who we are in Christ. We are to be a people who show mercy to those in need, no matter the circumstances. We are to run into the mess and point people to the one who can save them. We are to pray for those who persecute us, those who target us. We are to be peacemakers in a time of war. We are to be “good neighbors.”
It really is a good question to ask—not just on nine eleven, but everyday: Who am I?
Inspired by the selfless efforts of all those who chose to risk their lives surrounding the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Southern Hills is honoring the firefighters, law enforcement officers, and EMS personnel of Carroll County this Sunday, the fifteenth anniversary of 9-11. This is our opportunity to thank them for choosing to put their lives on the line every day—for us.