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What Would Jesus Do?
Jesus and the Terrorist Attack
September 13, 2001

Over and over again the image leaps out at me from the television set. When I close my eyes I can see the jet approach the 110 story skyscraper. I see it tilt with the left wing down and the right wing up. An instant later the jet turned weapon slices through the south tower of the World Trade Center leaving behind a massive fireball. Later, both Trade Towers implode and fall to the ground crushing everything and everyone beneath them.

My initial response of shock turned quickly to anger. When the president, and others, mention bring the perpetrators to justice I don’t want justice. I want whoever did this, or made it possible, to be crushed. No, I want them to be tortured.

And then I remember the words of Jesus. He said, “If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.” I’m of the opinion that Jesus wasn’t commanding us to stand still while an opponent beats us to death. Nor do I think he is commanding us individually, or nationally, to allow fanatics to terrorize us with horrific attacks. Rather, I think he was telling us to never allow someone else’s wrath to control our response. Once that happens, then our enemies are controlling us, not God.

No matter how you interpret Jesus’ words, they are undeniably difficult to put into practice. Especially in light of the current national crisis. Of course, Jesus always wants to take us deeper—that’s why he said if we want to be like our Father in heaven we will love our enemies.

For most of us there is a massive gap between what we feel for the terrorists and “love.” We probably don’t “feel” love for such men. But we can choose to behave in a loving way. Does that mean a Christian leader would not seek justice and punishment against the terrorists? No, it does not mean that. Jesus did not condemn the use of governmental power for the purpose of bringing about justice. Indeed, the bible teaches one purpose of government is to punish wrongdoers (Romans 13:1-5)

But if we’re going to follow Jesus we must take the next step. Jesus went on to say, “Pray for those who persecute you.” The only way I can connect with God and love my enemies is if God infuses me with his love and grace. I become like a branch that wants to bear fruit—it must rely on the vine to produce the fruit through it. I feel confident in saying that the most important thing any of us can do in the face of this national tragedy is pray. We must pray for our enemies. We must pray for the victims and their families. We must pray for our president and his counselors. We must pray for our nation and for a spiritual revival.

As mighty men we must choose, in the face of such terror, to fix our hope on God. He alone can give us and our families’ strength and security. In Psalm 46 we find that God is our “refuge and strength.” Solomon said that the day of death is better than the day of birth. He meant, I think, that in the face of death we pause and evaluate the meaning and purpose of our lives. I urge you to ask God, in the face of death, to fervently seek God. And pray God will lift up an army of mighty men who will fervently pray for our country.

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