Almost without exception, the Facebook posts I read today have to do with “Never forget!” or “Always remember!” (Pessimist/Optimist views). The events of September 11, 2001 will be hard to ever forget for those of us who were adults on that day. I’ll never forget that it was a CRYSTAL clear, bright blue perfect sky in Memphis, TN that day. I was in the middle of Greek class with Dr. Allen Black at Harding School of Theology; wondering, “how can a perfect day yield such terror?” The hallway became all abuzz about the events of the morning, and we had to break from class and find a TV to see what was going on.
What is it that we remember? What is it that people want us to remember? Is it “never forget that psycho Muslim jihadists attacked and murdered our people?” or is it, “never forget that that day will live as a perpetual alteration to the ease of our travel and security” or something else? Different people have differing motivations to remember, I suppose.
What is it we want to remember?
It occurs to me, that for disciples of Christ, our memory is so often a selective one that it would behoove us to stop and think about just WHAT we want to remember. Things like the events of 9/11 leave life-long prejudices against other people. Sometimes, Christians jump on the National Patriotism bandwagon and wave the Stars & Stripes without reflecting on some important things. My grandfather, for example, died at 83 believing that Japanese people were mostly traitors; devilish kamikazes who destroy innocents and have no real regard for human life. Obviously his worldview was painted in part by the events of December 7, 1941, the first day that “will live in infamy.” He was a deeply devoted Christian. But was his perception of all Japanese accurate?
What about Muslims? What about Muslim Jihadists? Our world is mostly different now, post 9/11, that’s for sure.
But what about the most violent, evil day in human history? What about that day that the people of God – the Jews – took the son of God and brutally murdered him – one LESS THAN deserving of death… in fact, totally deserving worship, honor, and praise – they betrayed, murdered, and hated him. Their claims and evidence were completely thin, clouded by the red cloud of fury and hate. If you’re reading this, you might wonder, “why the sudden change of subject, Drew?”
It’s all about perspective. BECAUSE Christ died, I can remember the world, and world events through a different lens. Because Christ suffered, I can learn what it means to love my enemies and “pray for those who spitefully use you.” BECAUSE Christ lived, I have hope and longing for the day that our re-creation into something better is possible. BECAUSE I remember Him, I am motivated to love, and not hate for others, even though some people may be full of ignorance, bitterness, and wrath. BECAUSE Jesus taught about humility and service as the means of achieving true greatness and “status”, I am motivated to love and serve even those who might betray me brutally, such as Judas did to Jesus. And YET, Jesus washed his feet that night (John 13). What was HE thinking? Knowing full well that his betrayer was sitting there, and he washed his feet. Was he extra rough with Judas’s feet, knowing what was about to happen in a few hours? Did he wash them extra thoroughly? Was he even more kind than usual?
9/11 was a day that forever changed the world. Much less, America. There have been brutal days in world history that probably equally deserve a “never forget” graphic. I was fortunate to be able to go to NYC about 2-1/2 weeks after the attack. I saw the rubble. I smelled the air – the burning metal, wood, materials, and flesh – most of the burnable materials had already been consumed by that point. For the love of Christ, we took 3000 care packages from Searcy, AR to NYC Fire houses, and distributed some love to those people. Prayer was powerful, and I will never forget that experience of standing there, watching workers, seeing the despair, listening to firefighters tell me stories like, “see that guy right there? He’s a walking miracle.” I believe Christ motivates us to view the world in three ways:
- View the world as POST-Christian. That is, we live after Jesus, and if we’re in Christ, we benefit NOW (and later) from the sacrifice of Jesus. His teaching changed it all.
- View the world as broken. People make poor choices, and ultimately hurt others many times, because of this.
- View the world with hope. Jesus gives us the future to experience now in part, and in its completion later.
Followers of Christ have a deeper motivation than “simply” care for loved ones or fellow Americans. It is a devotion that causes us to value THOSE relationships even more than we ordinarily would, since we value life from a different perspective. Today I encourage you to consider what it is that you’ll NEVER FORGET! What is the motivation for your life?
Consider John 12:23-35
Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. 25 Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me. 27 “Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name!” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.” 29 The crowd that was there and heard it said it had thundered; others said an angel had spoken to him. 30 Jesus said, “This voice was for your benefit, not mine. 31 Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. 32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” 33 He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die. 34 The crowd spoke up, “We have heard from the Law that the Messiah will remain forever, so how can you say, ‘The Son of Man must be lifted up’? Who is this ‘Son of Man’?” 35 Then Jesus told them, “You are going to have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you. Whoever walks in the dark does not know where they are going. 36 Believe in the light while you have the light, so that you may become children of light.”
I hope you have a great day. Remember 9/11… but remember it in the light of the MOST important things. We are called to be children of light, to influence the world around us and give hope and change that lasts. I suspect most people would say “we will never forget” out of a sense of National Pride and Patriotism. They simply won’t forget it, or how they felt, or how it changed things. But what about the life-changing news of Christ? What about the world-changing, forever hope granting, “kingdom that will never be destroyed” kind of change that Christ brought to the world? It’s more than National Pride. It’s my total allegiance, my true citizenship, and my identity in Jesus.