Love Not Hate

 - This message was written by a group of Christian ministry leaders as they met on September 11, 2000, the day of terrorist attacks on New York's World Trade Center and Washington's Pentagon (written in first person since they spoke "as one"):

"Liberty was attacked today by a faceless coward. Whoever is responsible will be hunted down and punished," said President Bush as he addressed the nation. His words appealed to our innate desire for justice to be served.

As I witnessed the devastation in New York City and Washington, D.C., a flood of emotions engulfed me: sadness, rage, compassion, anger. The desire for revenge and action rose within me.

President Bush’s response to these acts of war represented an appropriate action for the U.S. government to undertake. His words identified our individual desire for justice, but his words also provided the "government response for action." And the President’s words gave hope that my desire for revenge would be met. As time has passed, though, I have had to face what my reaction really reveals about me. As the tide of speculation rose that the culprits were Muslim terrorists, that same tide floated my concern about our response as Americans to Muslims in general.

After Pearl Harbor, as the United States of America plunged headlong into WWII, resentment toward Japanese-Americans rose at a feverish pace. Internment camps were set up and innocent people from that heritage were imprisoned. Individual Americans vented their rage in other atrocities toward Japanese Americans.

May this not happen again! Hopefully in the 60 years since Pearl Harbor, history has instructed us and we have listened. Anger, when allowed to fester, erupts from within and the flow of hatred washes over the innocent as well as the guilty.

Individual Muslims are not our enemy. Specific people and groups who have sought America’s destruction are the enemies of America. Our individual action needs to be different than our collective response. Jesus instructed us in Matthew 5:43, 44: "You have heard it said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemies, But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.’"

Jesus calls us as His followers to a higher level of individual response: love not hate. Healing comes not from hatred being expressed, but rather from love being manifested. This response is impossible through our own effort. Followers of Jesus can only respond like this as we allow His Spirit to control us moment by moment.

As the days and weeks ahead unfold, true followers of Jesus have an opportunity to allow the love of God to shine through us. Let compassion flow as you pour out help for the victims and their families.

Let love wash away tendencies toward racism as you express concern for the safety of Muslims who live around you. May we as followers of Christ lead the way in offering protection to those of another heritage who are innocent of the acts of terrorism.

Let hope be offered to nonbelievers. Look for ways to share the love of God with the lost as they search for answers in the midst of this tragedy.

September 11, 2001
Ethan Campbell
I saw the towers crumbling and people running. And in the midst of the horror, I saw God.

Failure to Render Aid
Mitch Land
No one knows the pain like those who have lost a loved one. Professor Mitch Land experienced acute agony when he lost his son. "Why don't you come here and do something about all this suffering?" Mitch cried out to God. And God had an answer for him.

From Terrorist in Training to Believer in Christ
The personal story of a Muslim who, while in weapons training for a group of fundamentalists, found the truth of a relationship with Christ.

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