They Dare — September 12, 2011

They Dare (1,267)

I’m going to take the risk.

I spent a delightful morning in Perry Hall, Maryland, enjoying the human beings that came before me and stood with me on September 11th, 2011. Such fine people. I am enriched beyond words to be in the presence of God’s good folk.

I met a minister who quietly goes about the business of loving people and maintaining a vision for his congregation. He has quite a background. He was a missionary for many years in the Caribbean and also in Africa. So many stories he can tell us. But yesterday was not a time for us to share our personal potential, but instead, commemorate the horrific loss on September 11th, 2001.

Here’s the risk I’m going to take: America stinks at commemorating. We have no idea how to turn an event of such tragedy into a celebration of human life. I’ll give you a clue—it doesn’t revolve around showing one more ash-covered person escaping from a collapsing building. Matter of fact, promise to do me a favor—ten years after I die, would you please swear not to sit around and discuss how I died, how horrible it was and how brave I was during the process? Would you please have a great conversation about my life, my dreams, my fulfillments and my legacy?

Because all of the discussions of the weekend—all of the news broadcasts, in my opinion, just served to produce the frustrated, self-righteous attitude of, “How dare they?” How dare these terrorists come and attack our country? How dare they destroy human lives? How dare they intrude upon our way of thinking and believing?

They dare.

And they will again—because they err. Yes. They dare because they err.

They have taken three portions of life that are precious and glorious when balanced and have turned them into a war cry instead of a gift from God. Country, God and family. They’re over-zealous about their national status, their upbringing and religion tells them they are a “chosen” race with a mission to save the world through their particular brand of “Godism.” And when it comes to God, they are convinced He is a wrathful blaze of anger, ready to extinguish the heathen into a vapor. And they only see family as being those who are linked to them through genetics, culture and proximity.

Yes, these are the three things that make people crazy—too much patriotism, a belief that God hates some people and loves others and that your family is limited to those who gather around your table for the holidays.

While we decry the actions of these pathetic madmen, we must be careful that we do not allow ourselves to become just as single-minded in these areas, and therefore in our own way, just as dangerous.

How did Jesus address these issues? He made it clear that he was not part of a provincial thinking, but rather, embraced the entire world. When the people around him wanted to lock him into a Jewish family in Nazareth, he refused to go back home, but instead, gestured to the people in the room with him and said, “Anyone who does the will of my Father is my mother, my sister and my brother.”

When he was rejected by his own countrymen, he said, “A prophet has no honor in his own country—amongst his own kin.”

And when dealing with the severe nationalism of the Jewish race, he told the leaders that “God was able to make children of Abraham from the stones.”

And finally, he made it clear that we should be careful not to expect a warm greeting from God if we treat those around us who are considered the “least” with disrespect and dishonor.

I was not pleased with how America handled this anniversary. However, there were some bright moments—honoring the courage of those on Flight 93, who gave their lives to save an unknown target in Washington, D.C., was moving. When they focused in on individual people, their stories and dreams, I was touched. When Mayor Bloomberg said that the tragedy had brought about thousands people moving into New York and turning it into a more family-environment rather than merely a habitat for Wall Street, I was astounded at the image. When I realized that because of the efforts of firemen, policemen and first responders, nearly 25,000 people were saved from the destruction, I was moved to tears.

Every commemoration must end in a celebration of human life or we merely confirm that we’re victims and we develop that arrogant notion, “How dare they?”

They dare because they believe their country is supreme, their God is mean, and their family is small. Let us not make the same mistake.

So I thank each and every one of you for your ongoing miracle of living out your heart and soul. I am glad to be on the planet with you at this time. And I am grateful that we, as Americans, can overcome our feelings of self-importance and realize that our country is part of a world which exists as a tiny spot in a universe created by a God who loves and grants mercy and wisdom to those who care—and teaches us to enjoy our personal families, as we extend that same tenderness to the entire family of man.

God bless America.

Yes. God bless America as we continue to bless others.

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