A few weeks ago, I sent an email to Sears online, after reading that they were selling pornography on their website. I heard about it on a blog which shared a link to the full story at the American Family Association. Since then, I’ve been receiving emails from the AFA, and of late they’ve been discussing the problematic matter of the Home Depot’s involvement in parades for Gay Pride. The AFA is encouraging Christians to boycott companies like Sears and Home Depot to let them know that we as consumers are displeased with their practices.

On an ongoing basis, I’d estimate that I receive at least a few emails per month voicing concern about the presence of Islam in our world today. Are Muslims going to take over our schools? Our government? Our nations? The world?

Reading between the lines of these different types of emails, I have begun to recognise a couple of patterns: 1. Fear. Things are changing and we are afraid. 2. A belief that we’ve gotta get together and do something big to change the direction that things are headed.

The more I think about the boycotts, the letterwriting, the President Obama SUX campaigns, and the social commentary that is lined with racism, the more I think we are somehow missing the biggest part of the message Jesus came to tell us, how He wants His people to live, and what He wants His people to be about.

The 11th of September has arrived again. With it, a myriad of remembrances will be taking place. One church apparently “put on hold” a plan to burn Korans, other people will visit a memorial, or a place where they can remember a loved one they lost that day.

If nothing else, a lot of Americans will be thinking about where they were when those planes flew into those towers. When they first heard someone say “We’ve been attacked.” And when pictures on a TV screen that seemed like something out of movie became reality…when smoke went up…buildings came down…and we all began to wonder “Who is safe?”

It struck fear in my heart. I remember myself, like a lot of us, being confused and angry. How could this happen? Why did it happen? Who could be so cruel? How could they hurt us like this? But what I want to say today is that whether or not you remember exactly where you were and how you felt on September 11, 2001, if you are a Christian, make sure that’s not where you are today.

Jesus came into this world, fully knowing He’d be mistreated, ignored, and eventually killed. But He decided that Love was more important. The Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, in agreement, and out of Love decided to send Jesus into this world that would hate and despise Him. Out of Love.

He came to teach people how to live differently. How to love people who treat us badly. How to love people we don’t agree with, pray for people who persecute us, and turn the other cheek.

He who says he abides in Him ought himself
also to walk just as He walked.
I John 2:6

But it’s as if we as Christians feel that Love is the incorrect response to the hatred expressed by radical Muslims. Instead of praying for those who would persecute us, even those who have persecuted us, we are sending around spiteful forwards via email, stirring up fear in those around us.  {Side Note: I don’t want to talk about War in this space. I don’t want to talk about Iraq or Afghanistan or political decisions.} I want to point to the call of the Church today, to embrace the Law of Love in the face of hatred. To embrace kindness and prayer in the face of anger and dissent. To strive to walk the way Jesus told us to walk. To love the way He showed us to love.

While we were still His enemies, Jesus died for us.

I truly believe the Truth would shine through, clear and bright, if we weren’t so busy focusing on boycotting organisations that support homosexuality and pornography, or sending around emails that speak spitefully about Islam.

Do I believe Islam is the Truth? No. Do I believe a homosexual lifestyle is the lifestyle God created us for? No. But do I believe Muslims are worthy of love, of kindness, of charity? Yes. I think showing love and compassion for people who are different, who are not living the way we think it best for them to live, will make a greater difference than voicing our displeasure by voting with our words, our wallets, and our unkind actions.

We are not responsible for convicting the world of sin. The Holy Spirit is. We are not responsible for “saving” people. Jesus died for them, and we need to bring them to Him.

We are responsible for loving people. For showing kindness and love, and walking out our faith so that people will see our good deeds, and praise our Father in heaven.

This year I want to respond to remembering September 11th the way Jesus taught us to. With forgiveness. With prayer. With Love.

When we pray “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us,” we’re saying “Lord, the way we forgive others, that’s how we want you to forgive us.”

Can we find forgiveness in our hearts today?  Can we pray for those who persecute us? The radical call of Jesus asks us to do that very thing.

I want to make sure it’s clear that I absolutely think what happened on September 11, 2001 was wrong and should never have happened. But will anger or bitterness or burning the Koran bring back the victims that died in the September 11th attacks? Will it bring real comfort to the families and friends who lost loved ones? I don’t think it will.

But there is a peace that comes from trusting in a good and loving and just God. And if we can respond to these acts of unkindness with forgiveness and love, it will be clear to all the world what the Truth is, and we can hope and pray that the Truth will set all of us free.