A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:35
It was a bright, wonderfully normal September morning and then everything changed. Nineteen years ago today our country found itself under attack by terrorists on a scale that was beyond almost everyone’s imagination. More amazingly it played out on national television for all of us to witness and mourn.
That morning I walked into the church office like dozens of times before…only this time was different. As I entered the door the secretary asked if I had heard that a plane had crashed into one of the world trade buildings. “Really?” I asked almost casually.” “Was it a big one or what?” She didn’t know and then I went into my office and slowly the news begin to spread. A large airliner had been hijacked and flown into one of the towers. Shortly, again on live television, we were shocked beyond belief as a second airliner flew into the other tower. And then—both towers collapsed. Even as I write this it doesn’t seem possible—but many of us saw it with our own eyes. Later another airliner crashed into the Pentagon. And there was more. Another hijacked aircraft heading to yet another target was taken back from the terrorists by a bunch of heroes. It crashed into a Pennsylvania field saving hundreds or maybe even thousands of lives.
The days that followed were like something we have never seen before. All flights in over the United States were grounded. New York, ground zero, was shutdown. People huddled over televisions soaking up any and all news and in the process becoming more and more afraid. To many it seemed like the end of the world as we knew it. And I suppose in some ways it was. We needed a miracle—we needed an encounter with the living God.
In a matter of a couple of days we witnessed something else. We saw something that was tremendously encouraging and a short time later something that was tremendously sad. First, we witnessed a coming together of the two major political parties in America. We watched as Democrats and Republicans stood on the Capital steps together and sang “God Bless America.” We were amazed. We were encouraged. It was one of our finest hours in the modern era and it was woefully short. Within a day, the finger pointing started as one party started blaming the other and sadly we found ourselves divided. In a time when we desperately needed to be together we were apart.
Fast forward 19 years and we find ourselves in yet another extremely difficult time. It is totally different and yet eerily similar. We are facing circumstances that have not been seen in modern times. The death toll is higher and the enemy faceless. And this time…we skipped the moment of unity and went straight to the finger pointing. We are a nation divided when we desperately need to be a nation united. Just like 19 years ago we are in desperate need of God and His healing power. The only hope lies in the living Hope—Jesus Christ.
God has put in place the army He intends to use. It is not Democrat, it is not Republican, it is you and I—it is His church-the body of Christ. If there was ever a time when followers of Jesus need to act like followers of Jesus—it is now. It is not a time for bigotry or nor is it a time for fussing over things that don’t matter. It is not a time for circling the wagons and defending the fort. It is a time to share the love, the kindness, the grace that every Jesus follower has experienced. It is time to give what we have been given.
I don’t know what this world is going to look like over the next few years. What I do know is that if this army of Jesus people will be Jesus to the world around us—it can, it will be a better place. Will it be perfect? Of course not—after all experiencing God’s grace doesn’t make us perfect—it makes us forgiven and forgiven people forgive others. Jesus said “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Wow—there is so much power—so much purpose—in that one statement.
It has been said that if a people does not learn from history they can only be destined to repeat it. In some ways I’m afraid that has become a reality. But it is not too late. So Jesus people, people who call Creator God, Dearest Father, let’s determine today to give up our fear, our anxiety, our pride and our prejudice and let’s rest in Him. He is big enough, He is strong enough, He is compassionate enough and believe me, He’s got this.