If we need to learn anything 10 years on from 9/11 it is that Jesus spoke the truth when he said that “Satan cannot cast out Satan” [Mark3:23]. Translating those words into the 9/11 context we can now clearly see that violence cannot cast out violence. Terror cannot cast out terror. War cannot end war. All George W. Bush achieved with his “we will destroy the axis of evil” was enlarge the axis and turn the USA into the largest perpetrator of terror on the planet without enhancing the safety and security of the USA one bit — in fact just the opposite. The world is more polarised and divided than before and on a daily basis people are still being killed in Iran and Afghanistan yet barely making the headlines. With each killing the ground is made fertile for future revenge. On this 10th anniversary it would be wonder-full if the USA asked the world for forgiveness for its terrorising response.
Tit for tat is an endless, pointless and deathly spiral. Jesus taught that forgiveness alone would break the spiral and turn death into life. Jesus not only taught this but he lived it. He chose rather to forgive than to retaliate, rather to be killed than to kill. Here in lies the salvation of the world as we are given a new way to live life — a way of living life that starts a spiral of life rather than death. This really is the crux (from crucifixion) of what it means to follow Jesus. Above all else a follower of Jesus is a person who loves those who do not love her or him. “For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have…” [Matt 5:46]. A follower of Jesus is a forgiver not a fighter.
Now like the USA we ourselves have not been very good at this — our response to hurt and wrong-doing is often to hurt in return and in doing so we multiply the wrong — and become the very image of the one who has hurt us.
To become a forgiving people begins with knowing that we are a forgiven people. “For we love because God first loved us…” [1 Jn 4:19].
We are forgiven to forgive.