I admit – my memory is short. I don’t always remember the important stuff. That’s why I am thankful to the calendar programs that are on my computer as well as my smart phone. Even with these cool gadgets, I don’t always remember.
But there is something that I do remember for a long time. The wrongs done to me, or the injustices that affect me, I remember those for a long time. I can remember where I was on Route 95 in Maryland when I got a call from a friend of my wife’s on September 11, 2001, to ask if she was ok. This friend remembered that Lauren worked near the Twin Towers, so she wanted to know if Lauren might be caught in the chaos of the plane crash. I thanked her for the call and reminded her that Lauren moved down to Maryland when we got married 10 months prior. Then I turned on the radio. Every station on the radio was reporting on the planes that had crashed in New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania. The phone lines jammed pretty soon after I made a few calls, because so many people were calling their loved ones to make sure they were safe. When I arrived at my destination, I could not take my eyes off of the tv screen that continued to show the wreckage.
I also remember all the cancellations after the event. One that hurt me the most was the final game of Cal Ripken, Jr.’s career. When Cal announced his retirement earlier in the year, I called the Yankee Stadium to get what must have been the last two tickets (they only had seats in the last row of now demolished stadium). Cal was one of my heroes. So, to score those tickets meant a great deal to me. But 9/11 changed that, too. Due to the chaos of the event, Cal’s final game ended up being in Baltimore, and I could not get a ticket.
I know, compared to the people who lost their loved ones, a baseball game is not something to hold a grudge about. But that’s not my point. My point is that we all hold on to those things that hurt us and remember them for a long time. For some, it consumes all their energy. So, we re-route our energies to hate or fear. However, too often, our anger and fear are pointed in the wrong direction.
Because of 9/11, Muslims have become targets of hatred by many Americans. And because of 9/11, fear of Muslims have increased. Even here in Canada, considered one of the most multicultural countries in the world, there is persecution of Muslims. The Premiere of Quebec, and her party, has proposed a legislation that would in effect persecute the Muslims for their religious practices (Quebec’s Values Charter). For those of us who consider ourselves Christian, we could point our fingers to the secular government and try to pretend that we are free of guilt, but that’s not entirely true. It is true that the Christians have done a lot to love Muslims both in North American and in many Islamic countries through “missions” work. However, the fear is still prominent among most Christians.
It is human nature to fear that which we have very little knowledge of. It is also human nature to try to reduce complicated matters into simple formulas. Therefore, when we learned Muslim radicals attacked America, we group all Muslims as being radical. When we hear about Muslim radical women hiding bombs in their burkas to blow up innocent people, we fear all people wearing burkas. We forget that the majority of Muslims are average people just like us, who fear radical Muslims just as we do.
The fact of the matter is we live in a hate filled and morally degenerate world (we don’t necessarily have to point our fingers only at people like Miley Cyrus, all the murderers, and whatever is on the news generally, but simply to look at our own actions and thoughts). That is why I love reading passages like Hebrews 10. The writer of Hebrews reminds us of our sin nature, then also reminds us of God’s promise to us:
Hebrews 10:14-18 14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. 15 And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying, 16 “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws on their hearts, and write them on their minds,” 17 then he adds, “I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.” 18 Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.
Verse 17 is amplified in Psalm 103:10-13:
10 He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. 11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; 12 as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. 13 As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him.
Therefore, God’s children can have confidence of His love:
Hebrews 10:19-23 19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.
By placing our hope in Jesus, we have full assurance that we will be perfected in the end – no hatred toward any of God’s creations (including those who wear the veil). So, for those of us who have put our trust in Jesus, we would do well to heed the exhortation of the writer of the book of Hebrews:
Hebrews 10:24 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works,
So, what is my point? My point is this: On this day, as we remember 9/11, rather than recount our losses, and the fear that we have of Muslims, I wonder if we could show kindness to a Muslim. No matter what your religious background, I believe we could show love toward our enemies. If your religion doesn’t have room for love, then check out Christianity. And for those of us who are called by the Name of the one whom we profess has made a way for us to redemption, we have no excuse. It was Jesus who said, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lays down his life for his friends (John 15:13).” And He went even further to say, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you (Matthew 5:44).” If we proclaim that we love Jesus, it behooves us to do what He says we should do. May I stir you up to encourage a Muslim today?