Sometimes, crosses can be very heavy.
One of the most stunning photographs that came out of September 11, 2001 is of the Ground Zero Cross. This 20-foot steel cross was found among the debris of 6 World Trade Center. The cross, believed to be from 1 World Trade Center, the North Tower, became a symbol of hope and inspiration for rescue workers and families affected by the tragedy.
To some, the heavy, steel cross is a shrine, an object of worship and remembrance. I suspect that many have even made the cross an idol. To atheists, the cross is an eyesore, a constant reminder of faith for those who spend their days trying to avoid the reality of faith. Even still, atheist groups are fighting the decision to include the cross at the WTC Memorial, citing the Establishment Clause of the Constitution. To some, the steel cross is just a piece of wreckage that is a constant reminder of the horror of that day. Others see the cross in a different light.
As we observe the tenth anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks, I see the Ground Zero Cross as a symbol of a much greater truth. We must understand that hope cannot be found in relics or artifacts. Hope can’t even be found in a 20-foot steel cross. I do believe, however, that the Ground Zero Cross points to a hill far away, on which stood an old rugged cross, an emblem of suffering and shame. That wooden cross stands in the wreckage of sinfulness, and it is covered with the blood of the Son of God. For you see, our hope in this world is based on nothing less than the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
People today still need to hear this message. On September 16, 2001, churches were full of people looking for hope, for answers. Ten years later, people are still looking for hope. Though the wreckage we stand in today is financial, not the smoldering remains of the Twin Towers, hope is still in short supply. In reality, today is no different than those days following September 11th. Hope is still found in the Gospel, peace is found in Christ.
As followers of Jesus, it is our responsibility to share this hope with others. It is even our responsibility to share this hope with those whose religion drove them to the terrorist attacks of ten years ago. The cure for terrorism isn’t bombs and bullets. Though necessary for national defense, they will only breed more terrorists. The cure for terrorism is no different than the cure for hopelessness – the Good News of Jesus.
Sometimes, crosses can be very heavy – like when Jesus says to “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” Jesus wants us to love Muslims – even the ones who want to eradicate Christianity. He even wants us to pray for radical Islamists who would jump at the chance to stage another 9-11. Are these difficult words? Certainly. Some might even consider these remarks inflammatory. But if you take Jesus at His word, then you have no other appropriate response. If you truly believe that God wants “no one to perish, but all to come to repentance,” then you must believe that God wants even radical Muslims to recant, repent, and give their life to Jesus.
Will you join me this tenth anniversary of 9-11 and pray for those who would still seek to destroy both our nation and our faith? Would you pray that men and women might turn from jihad and turn to Jesus? Would you join me in prayer for the missionaries who are taking the Gospel to some of the world’s most dangerous places, so that Muslims might learn of the hope that they can know only in Jesus Christ?