I was in Mrs. Lavender’s third grade class. We were walking to the bathroom, single file, arms crossed. I remember Mrs. Lavendar stopping and talking to another teacher with deep concern, “Did you hear about the airplanes? What’s going on?”. I remember wondering what they were talking about. I thought, “What plane? There aren’t any planes around here. Why are they so concerned.” A couple hours passed and Mrs. Lavendar stopped the class and shared that some of us maybe leaving school early today. She then went into a conversation with us about the terrorists attacks that we all identify with today as 9/11. We were all in shock. Even at a young age we could feel the severity and weight of what was happening to our country. Throughout the day we sat and watched the news, one by one my classmates would leave as their parents arrived to pick them up. To this day I’m thankful for Mrs. Lavendar’s heightened sense of empathy and canceled the lessons plans that day so we could connect as a classroom with our national community.
I would later go home and watch the news with my family, I remember having strong emotions and being moved to tears throughout the week as I thought about the events that took place. It was my first memory of a national crisis, of terrorism, and understanding the depravity of man. It was my first time being able to empathize deeply and mourn with people I didn’t even know. I had so many questions. Who was Al Qaeda? Where did they come from? Why do they hate America? Why were they taught to think this way? I felt deeply about the families who had lost their loved ones. How easily that could have been someone I loved too. Yet, what stuck out to me most was the brave individuals who were running into the twin towers as they were burning, while everyone else was running for safety.
In the midst of hate and terror there was a demonstration sacrificial love.
In the wake of crisis there is always an army running into the face of catastrophe for their fellow man. We saw it on September 11, we see it now during hurricane season. We see it throughout history in the midst of civil unrest and injustice where people were martyred (the oppressed and allies) for addressing the demonic powers of their time. During revival where (wo)men go against the status quo and voluntarily consecrate themselves, forsaking everything, to revive the church and bring humanity to repentance again. We see it in war when men and women open their doors and churches to refugees in places where it is controversial (some run the risk of death by taking in their country’s enemy). In these spaces very rarely will these types leaders pause and question the character of the people heir called to. Their religion, race, political affiliation, nationality, or character become secondary once the assignment is given and the gift to see humanity in the same lens as Christ is embraced. Which leads us to our greatest example, the Crucifixion.
A sinless man willingly giving His life for a depraved people - the terrorist, the murderer, the liar, the poor, the outcast - for the possibility that we may walk intimately with Him one day, worshipping Him in spirit and in truth, should we choose to follow Him… Redeemed humanity as the joy set before him. Seeing us, His image bearers, all worth it.
As followers of Christ the demand to pick up our cross and follow Him is so great as we continue in out efforts for justice and the great commission. In a fallen world where racism, xenophobia, sexism, white supremacy, prejudice, self-righteousness, greed, confusion of all sorts, and heinous acts of hate have marred our conscience there is a need for the body of Christ to run full force into these worlds to cry aloud for the reordering of creation back to God’s original intent and ultimately for Christ’s return. To bring love where there is hate and rejection. To confront false unity and contend for its opposite. To release truth where there is confusion and lies. To violently pursue the brother or sister that has been marginalized. To actively love all men, even when it’s controversial. It’s a costly love.
In the face one of the greatest terrorist attacks on American soil these public servants went running and displaying the greatest act of love, laying down their lives for friends, really strangers. For many it cost them their lives. As we continue forward in an error of addressing a gross culture of hate and ungodliness in our societies may we run in full force as counter cultural ambassadors. For some, it will cost us our lives, reputation, finances, rapport with men, time and more. However, the days of self- preservation must leave us if we are to display the same love Christ expressed to the world, it is an invitation into fellowship with Him. It’s an invitation that may even save us and rid us of our anemic life experiences. May we reflect today asking ourselves, “What is God requiring of me? What is holding me back from living selflessly? Does my love for humanity mirror the word of God? Am I growing in love or shriveling in selfishness? Lord search my heart.”
Matthew 25-26 “He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor.”
Today my heart is connected to the families and friends who lost loved ones on this day. To the servants who ran into danger that day, knowing the cost, thank you for pulling us all closer to the cross. Your life’s open confession of love for your neighbor will always be remembered and honored.