Sunday, September 11, 2011

9/11 - Love Never Fails

Today is the day that fear tried to usurp love in this world ten years ago. I wonder if those men had any idea how much their actions would change everything? What is both sad and frightening is that these men thought what they were doing was the right thing. How can a person ever arrive at the point of thinking that hatred and murder is the right thing to do? All hatred does is birth more hatred and that is exactly what happened to the world that day.

That ten years ago was like a huge rock being thrown into the pond. The initial splash was terrible but the waves that went out from it are still being felt today. Walls were constructed immediately as a nation and a world tried to protect itself. Trust was put aside in favour of "protection". Everyone became a suspect. Fear took root in those hours, a fear that went far deeper than we understood at that time. The world became darker, less friendly, less trusting, less loving. The world became less.

As the whole world reflects on this day and allows itself to be gripped by that fear once again, I wonder if it is true that fear and hatred are a stronger force than love? Look how quickly the world changed on that day. Look at what change fear brought about in this world in a matter of hours. Has love ever changed and shaped this world as mightily as fear and hatred?

Of course it has but its manner of changing and shaping is on a different level than fear and hatred. The love that was shown us on the cross of Calvary is a relentless love that persists in the face of any evil. That one act of love knocked fear and hatred on their butts and has been ringing down through the generations. It can be seen in every act where sacrifice is made for the benefit of another person. There is no greater love than when a person lays aside their own interests, their own pursuits, their own dreams, their own lives for the benefit of another person.

Moments after those planes hit the towers in a great act of hatred that birthed fear, love responded. Immediately the strong and mature rose up to come to the aid of those who were desperate for help and protection. Personal interest was thrown aside as men and women ran into those buildings instead of away from them. Love shouted back its response as a city, a nation, the world held their breath in wonder at the actions of people who selflessly gave themselves for the sake of others. I tell you, where hatred and fear tried to rob us of our peace, love responded with mercy, grace and sacrifice. Love never fails.

I was thinking a lot about this yesterday. I was thinking of how the shadow of 9/11 has cast such an ugliness across this world. I was thinking of what a powerful force of change fear and hatred are. I was thinking how they have won out in this world. I was thinking these things but I was wrong in my thinking. Even as I looked I could see simple acts of love and kindness happening around me. Love has never been deviated in this world. It is like a steady flowing river. It looks slow but it runs deep. It is too deep for any rocks of hatred to change its course.

Today, throughout this world, there will be starving people who will be given food because of love. There will be elderly people visited and encouraged because of love. Someone who is sick will be prayed over because of love. People in hospitals, in prison, in nursing homes will be visited because of love. Someone will sacrifice some of their savings to help a friend because of love. A meal will be shared because of love. You see, fear and hatred have a shock value but love is relentless. Love never fails.

This is the part we don't always understand about Jesus, he never gives up. In the face of evil he chose love. When they were nailing him to the cross, in love he forgave. After Peter had turned his back on Jesus, Jesus chased him down and in love forgave him. Even though Saul was destroying the Church and acting against Jesus, throwing believers into prison and scattering them in fear throughout the world, Jesus called to him and forgave him, in love. God is relentless in his love. We were his enemies when he sent Jesus to die for us. We were lost in self-absorbed sin and rebellion but God never gave up. He never walked away. He pushed through with his plan. His great act of love is still being felt today, over 2000 years later and will be felt and acted upon right into eternity.

Something I think we have failed to understand in all of this is that hatred can never be the response to hatred. I am happy so many people have understood this. We cannot be selective in Jesus' teachings. He clearly said:

You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. (Matthew 5:43-45)

Today should not be a day of re-awaking the hatred and fear birthed ten years ago. Today should be a celebration of the great sacrifices made by those who chose to love in the face of fear. We should be remembering the people who laid down their lives for their neighbour. We should rejoice that in the face of such ugliness there were those who demonstrated such incredible beauty. Evil can do its worse but love is greater because love is relentless. In memory of 9/11 I encourage you to be sacrificial in your love today. Do something that costs you to show love to someone. Let the spirits of fear and hatred know they will never win over the mighty relentless force of love, especially if it is the power of Jesus' love. It is because of our weaknesses and in the face of fear and hatred that Jesus laid his life down for us and in turn told us to do the same for one another. Remember that today. Love never fails.

Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13)

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. (1 John 3:16)

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