Sometime in the 1990’s my brother became a card-carrying Communist. Over the years, as I have lived and worked and raised a family in this country, I realize that the conclusion I came to then rings evermore true today: my brother had better enjoy any intrinsic benefits of the affiliation, because it is doubtful he will ever see significant success in the political landscape. By all accounts, America will never accept, on any appreciable scale, the tenants of Communism. I feel the same way about my friends who bemoan the sorry state of our national response to 9/11. Why did we have to retaliate militarily? Why can’t we forgive? Here is another important question to consider: who do we mean by “we”? For some Christians, “we” means the federal government, or mass media, or the culture at large. But how realistic is it to expect these entities to behave the way Rowan Williams and others want them to behave? I understand the yearning, I really do. But I can’t help thinking that, time and again, such desires will be frustrated. No matter how much we want the federal government of the United States to behave like a Spirit-filled, Christ-centered, Kingdom of God-focused individual Christian, it will not. Nor will CNN, Fox or the New York Times. It is important for “America” to forgive the perpetrators of 9/11 and their current fellow travelers? My understanding of my faith does not even allow me to address such a question. I know that, by the grace of God, I can forgive wrongs done to me. It is extraordinarily difficult, but through Christ who strengthens me, it can, thankfully, be a reality in my life. My personal witness, and the larger witness of the church is certainly relevant in the context of 9/11, but for most people I meet, an inability to forgive terrorists is not their problem. They desperately need to forgive their parents, spouse, boss, or whoever it was that hurt them. And rather than lament the inability of our civic leaders or the media or John Q Public to act like followers of Jesus, we, the church, need to find new ways to invite them into a transforming relationship with that Jesus.
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