Two paths before us

Relates to:
Date: 2001-09-16

By Jedd Medefind
Speech Written for Assemblyman Tim Leslie
Fair Oaks Presbyterian Church

This past Tuesday, America tasted evil in its rawest, most unvarnished form. There are no words sufficiently large, sufficiently painful, sufficiently outraged to wrap around the depth of all that we now feel.

Perhaps the words that come closest are those of the Apostle Paul in Romans: “We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons…”

As Christians, despite our shock at what occurred Tuesday, we should not be surprised at the darkness we saw. Those terrible events were a tragic affirmation—shouted in our ears—of the reality that man is desperately fallen…desperately in need of a Savior.

Sin. Evil. Darkness. We see them in every schoolyard shooting, in every instance of domestic violence, in every child molestation, and even in decent, safe people like ourselves when we harbor bitterness, and pride, and selfishness. This is the reality of the world in which we live.

The ultimate question in face of this reality is “HOW SHALL WE RESPOND?” In particular, how shall we respond to an evil of such magnitude as what we experienced this past week?

There are at least two potential answers to this question. I see two paths lying before us.

One route—the lower path—would have us channel all of the passion we now feel into rage and hunger for revenge. In doing this, perhaps we could collect some balm for our deep wounds from deeper wounds we seek to work upon our enemies. We must understand, however, that the balance will never be fully set right; too many lives have been lost, too much damage has already been done. What has been done to us can never be fully requited upon those responsible. If we were to try, the quest would only rot our souls.

The second route—the higher path—will also seek justice. God has given government the sword to punish evildoers. In this instance, I believe this means bringing the full force of American might upon those who planned this evil. But as a people, our energy and emotion will find its primary expression not through simmering hatred, but in the great good that can be born out of tragedy.

For our nation, we will seek a renewal of national unity, of pride in our noble heritage, and of service to those who have been harmed. For each individual, this will mean a deep thankfulness for our many blessings, a reexamination of the purpose of our existence, and a recommitment to all that is good and right. For Christians, this will even mean sincerely praying for our enemies.

These two paths are both still very much open to us. Viewing the response of Americans thus far—the concern and labor on behalf of those who have suffered, the activities of our Day of Prayer and Remembrance, and the overwhelming spirit of unity—I am thankful to say that it appears we have started off toward the second path.

But we must choose to remain on this path. If our missiles find their mark and we are tempted to rejoice, if more acts of terror are carried out upon us, if we see our enemies celebrating our pain…we must remain committed to the higher road.

To set off upon the first path, the path of hatred and bitterness, would be a tragedy far worse than anything any terrorist could do to us.

The second road, the road of graciousness and nobility…this is the road to true healing, as well as to ultimate victory over those who will our destruction.

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