Thousands of lives were lost on that single day. Many more hundreds and thousands have been lost since then due to the events of that day and the aftermath of the rescue efforts, smoke inhalation, and more. Soldiers were almost immediately deployed. We would find that the Pentagon would be hit and that a plane headed for the White House or Capitol Building had been brought down in the isolated fields of Pennsylvania by some brave passengers who fought against the Muslim assailants. America was under attack. It was the first attack on the continental United States by a foreign army since the War of 1812. It was the first attack against the United States on her soil since Pearl Harbor and World War II. In response, Americans united. Church filled up. Even the pacifists were begging for blood. And while rational thinking told us those feelings were euphoric and emotional, thus not sustainable, it is quite alarming and how much we actually don't remember on this day.
I remember on 9/11 and shortly thereafter that America was unified. Race wars took a backseat. In fact. for a good while there seemed to be no major race issues. People from all races, nationalities, and orientations came together at a time of tragedy. Differences were put aside. We came together under the motto, "United We Stand." Farmers in the Midwest wept for businessmen and their families in New York City. It didn't matter what your background was in those days. We wept, and we all wept together. Though we had never met those that perished or their families who were hurting, we wept for them. We felt for them. We wanted justice for them, and ourselves. Though my family was safe in Georgia, I felt like I had been attacked as so many others did as well. We didn't forget our skin color or beliefs during this time. We just decided that love for one another and standing with one another was more important. It's amazing how tragedy reminds us that at the end of the day we're all still human beings. We all have people we hold dear that we can't imagine living a day without. We have our memories and our possessions that remind us of days gone by that we treasure. Aside from our religious bickering, social bantering, and ideological bashing, we're all the same. We were all made by the same Creator in the same image and loved the same. That's what makes us equal. That's what binds us together.
When we say, "We remember," I wonder if we do. We do remember what happened for sure. How could anyone forget? It was the "JFK moment" for my generation. We remember how we felt and still feel, but have we forgotten the lesson of humanity? Have we forgotten, especially for Christians, that we are our brother's keeper? Have we forgotten that God isn't the author of confusion and division? Have we forgotten where God has brought us from, and if not for the grace of God, we too might very well be lost and still ensnared in sin?
It's become all too easy since that fateful day to dismiss one another. Race wars have reignited. Liberals and Conservatives battle picking and choosing headlines and quotes to frame one another with. We've learned how to pick through people's past to discredit them in the present and future. We've lost our discipline and responsibility with our health, finances, and reputation. We want to befriend those who share ideology with those 9/11 attackers and shun those who would beg to differ. We've become a people with made up minds about nothing in particular awaiting orders from our cultural gods to tell us how to act, who to hate, who to be suspicious of, and what to march against next. We're imploding from the inside out. We're kicking the proverbial can to another generation. We've learned to pounce, attack, and ask questions later. Technology has made us all more important than we truly are, and it's unearthed and intensified the selfishness and pride of fallen mankind. Through social media, everyone is a star and everyone's opinion needs to be heard. We're smart enough to collect enough evidence and stories to support our views and deceptive enough to disregard and ignore all proof to the contrary while running headlong with our personal battle flag into the war for the souls of men. We announce and define freedom as if it's something we created. We, flawed as we are, have decided that we created equality and thus get to define it. We claim the equality clause of the Constitution and forget that it's directly tied to rights given to us by "the Creator." We wouldn't dream of burning our flag during the time of 9/11, but there are those today who do and are celebrated for it in the name of freedom of speech and protest.
Do we really remember? Do we really remember that the enemy is not one another? I am a child of God. I'm a Christian. I believe Jesus Christ is the only begotten Son of God. I believe He was born of the virgin Mary, lived a perfect, sinless 33 years on this planet, and died the cruelest, most excruciating death imaginable on the cross. I believe He rose again on the third day and appeared to many over the next 40 days. I believe He ascended into Heaven and that He is coming again just like He promised He would. I believe His Word is true from Genesis to Revelation. I believe the parts I understand and the parts I don't fully comprehend, because I believe in Jesus. I believe in studying and asking questions to understand scripture and not just dismissing it because it doesn't line up with my warped, fleshly, and carnal sense of right and wrong. I believe in the teachings of Christ. I believe He forgives sin and that the price of our sins was paid for on the cross through His shedding of blood. I believe there's a home awaiting me and all those who believe in Heaven when this life is through. And because I believe all of that, I have to remember. I'm called to remember. I'm expected to remember. I'm expected to see mankind as Christ does in that He loves us while we are sinners and died for us when we had nothing to offer Him. I'm expected to learn to see the potential on the inside of a person and not judge them by their outward appearance. I'm expected to give grace, for I am in need of more and more daily it seems, and whatsoever a man sows, that he shall reap in same measure.
Do we remember? I'm not sure we do. I'm not advocating utopia or heaven on earth by any means. I'm not suggesting we can't disagree and even do so strongly. I'm not suggesting that the church should accept sin by any means. I'm not suggesting that right isn't still right and wrong isn't still wrong. As a Christian, I'm going to stand with scripture regardless of the culture. But I am suggesting that we remember the humanity that surrounds us daily. I am suggesting we remember the job of a Christian is to love God and love others. Jesus said if we would do those two things, we would fulfill the Law. I am suggesting that we remember the words of Christ to be careful not to judge. I'm saying if we could learn to truly remember, we'd come out from behind our cultural labels, social media personas, ideologies, and judgments and not be so quickly divided. We'll never change our world by getting on talk shows and screaming at each other. We'll never change the world for Christ by creating YouTube channels of our opinions and ideas. We'll never change the world by warring with one another or looking to beat one side into submission through culture, laws, intimidation, and force. We change the world with the Gospel message of Christ. If we're peddling political narratives, cultural "truths," and personal opinions more than we're presenting the truth of Christ's message, then we've ceased to be useful to the Kingdom of God and we've become distracted by the temporary and lost sight of the eternal.
So on this 14th anniversary of 9/11, let's truly remember. Let's remember the fallen. Let's remember the families. Let's remember our military. Let's remember our country. And let's remember those moments when we were reminded that we need one another and that we need God. Churches were filed for the remainder of 2011 because we remembered God and we remembered one another. Let's remember again, and as Christians, may we lead the way by the way we live, the words we speak, and the attitude we carry. I do remember 9/11, and may I never forget.