I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. - Matthew 5:44-45 NIV
Here we are on the twentieth anniversary of that very dark day when our world was forever changed. We remember the thousands who lost their lives that day, and the personnel who died in the rescue attempts that followed. Included in that number are the 19 terrorists who conducted the attack. In today's verse, Christ tells us we are to pray for them.
How can we possibly do that? How can we love the 19 terrorists, the planners, and the backers? The answer is we can't; it is only through God's grace that we can. We must remember that these same people who abused and persecuted us were also made in the image of God. Yes, they did evil things, no one can deny that, and we should hate the evil, but still love the person.
For us to experience true peace, however, we must be able to offer forgiveness. To fully love as Christ loved, we need to forgive as he forgave as he hung on the cross. Our forgiveness may not change how our enemies feel about us. But what it does is lift the burden of hate that darkens our own lives and allows Christ’s love to enter. Who knows, in some cases, this forgiveness may lead to changes to their hearts. We should never underestimate God's ability to move others. So, on this day of remembrance, let's pause in silence in tribute and offer a prayer of forgiveness for our enemies.
God, we give you thanks for your love and forgiveness. But, we confess, we find it hard to forgive our enemies. Please help as we struggle to separate sin and evil yet love the person. Help us to forgive so that we can experience the true love of Jesus Christ. Amen.