Exodus 32:7-14, 1 Timothy 1:12-17, Luke 15:1 ff
As the U.S. military gears up to forestall any further aggression, we say, "go get 'em!" Go get those who planned and executed the horrific attack. Do everything possible to rid the world of terrorists and the governments that support and supply them. It is, after all, a question of self-defence and much of the world is ready, as are we, to support the Americans in this effort.
How does this mesh with the Word of God? The simple answer is that "they" are not sorry and their leaders, unlike Moses, are not pleading on their behalf. Furthermore, they give every indication that unless they are stopped in their tracks, both here and abroad, they will strike again and again.
As Christians we are taught to sacrifice for the sake of peace. We are told to turn the other cheek if that is what it takes to avoid an escalation of violence. We are told to give to someone who is desperate enough to steal from us...but all within reason! Even Jesus whipped those who were desecrating the temple and He destroyed their property...and do not forget the many great soldier saints including Joan of Arc and the Roman Army Centurion who turned to Jesus in his hour of need.
The question most often asked is...Who is the enemy and why do they hate with such a passion? Daniel Pipes, director of the Philadelphia-based Middle East Forum suggests that two extremist ideologies maintain a grip on much of the Middle East. He holds that the real goal of Palestinian nationalism is the destruction of Israel and replacing it with a Palestinian state. They see the position and power of the United States as the major stumbling block toward that end. And so they rejoice in any harm done to the U.S.
Then there is Islamism which Mr. Pipes describes as a body of ideas that converts traditional Islam into a radical utopian ideology along the lines of fascism and Marxist-Leninism. It has, he maintains, ambitions to replace capitalism and liberalism as the reigning world system. Major centres appear to be Algeria and Afghanistan. Radical Islamists see Western civilization as being the direct antithesis of all they represent and a Godless, amoral United States as its flag carrier.
Animosity has been building for years. Now it is out in the open. In the past, Western Governments have appeased these movements or have simply ignored them in spite of a number of terrorist attacks on military and other government personnel and installations. The page turned on Tuesday last. They are not to be appeased and will not be ignored any longer.
There is a huge, frightened majority of Moslems who are true followers of the Koran and who abhor the teachings and actions of the radical few who have sadly usurped the face and the faith of several nations. We must take great care to affirm and support them. They are our best allies and central to the healing process of the future.
Finally, when "the all clear" sounds, as it will, we of the West must try to identify and eradicate those characteristics and shortcomings of our society which bring about, support, and influence injustice and immorality here and abroad.
I do not believe, however, that we can be fairly typified as being a secular, utilitarian society. Though often confused and with our priorities out of alignment, we are mostly, if not a God fearing society, a God seeking society.
God respects us too much to ever deprive us of free will and so, when faced with raw evil, we will always ask... "But where is God, how could He permit this?" The real question is, Where was I? Where were you? Where were the rest of us?
At least during these past few days, we know where we were and where our hearts have been as the presence of God became more visible, more tangible in the countless faces and deeds of men and women who wept, toiled and sacrificed for others. That should tell us something!