Much has been, and will continue to be, written about the September 11 terrorist attacks. As Christians we yearn for biblically-based perspectives about these happenings.
The writers of our Spokesman devotionals will surely make periodic references to these things in their writings. Below are a couple other responses. One is from the bulletin of a CLC church–by a pastor; another is from the Newsletter of a CLC Christian Day School–by an eighth grade student!
As we observe the national holiday of Thanksgiving–and pray again together the Lord’s Prayer–let us remember everything we include in that prayer, including everything in the words “Give us this day our daily bread.” Under this fourth petition in his Large Catechism, Luther says:
“A long prayer of many words could be made out of (this petition) by listing all the things it includes. For example, we could pray God to give us food and drink, clothing, house and home, a healthy body; to let the grain and the fruits of the field grow to maturity; to help us to manage our household affairs well; to give and preserve to us a good wife, good children, good servants; to cause our job, trade, or occupation to succeed or prosper; to send us good neighbors and good friends, and so on. We could continue our prayer by asking God to give wisdom, strength, and success to emperor and king and all authorities, particularly our governors, counselors, magistrates, and officials, enabling them to rule well and to be victorious over aggressors and all enemies; to enable their subjects and people in general to live together in obedience, peace, and harmony; on the other hand, to guard us against all manner of harm to our body and means of subsistence, against storm, hail, fire, and flood, against poison, pestilence, and cattle disease, against war and bloodshed, famine, savage beasts, wicked persons, and similar evils. It is well to impress on the people in general that all the above good things and others like them do come from God and must be prayed for. . . . “
So let us pray.
* RETALIATION? (From a Sunday worship bulletin of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Mankato, Minnesota; the writer is Rev. Wayne Eichstadt)
In the two weeks since the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington D.C., our nation’s leaders have been preparing for what President Bush has called a “war on terrorism.” President Bush and other leaders have left no doubt that it is our government’s intention to strike back at those responsible for this and other terrorism in our nation and around the world.
Many “experts” have been offering their opinions about our country’s “best response.” Leaders within the so-called “religious community” of our country have not been without their opinions either. Opinions are useful and interesting for debate, but when considering what would be a proper response we can do much better than opinion–we have GOD’S WORD! God’s Word clarifies many of the questions that have been recently voiced concerning the United States’ response to terrorism.
God alone rules heaven and earth and everything in them. In order to provide law and order, protection, and leadership on the earth, God establishes governments. The governments of the world exist and have their authority by God’s ordinance. “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God” (Rom. 13:1).
Governments function as God’s representatives on earth, and He has given them a specific and significant responsibility: “He (earthly government) is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil” (Rom. 13:4). God gives governments the responsibility of providing peace and safety for their citizens. God gives authority to governments and the responsibility to execute justice upon evildoers.
There is no doubt that the terrorists of September 11th committed great acts of evil. The legitimate authorities of the world have every right–and indeed they have the responsibility–to their citizens to respond and execute God’s wrath upon the criminals.
This authority to “execute wrath” belongs to governments, not to individuals. No individual has the authority from God to take matters into his own hand and execute justice. The examples of “ethnic retaliation” that have taken place in our country since September 11th are therefore sinful even if the people being attacked were responsible for the terrorism. These actions are all the more sad and reprehensible because the store owners and others who have been attacked are not at all responsible for the loss of life in New York and Washington.
Our government’s leaders and those of other countries around the world have the authority from God to retaliate against the criminal acts of terrorists. The weighty responsibility that faces them is to determine how best to accomplish this in a just way. The difficulty of this task and the wisdom that is needed to make such decisions are why our prayers rightly include petitions on behalf of our country’s leaders.
“I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:1-4).
* COMFORT IN CHRIST (From the Silicon Times, newspaper of St. Stephen Lutheran School, Mountain View, California; by 13-year-old Danielle Ryan; sent to us by Mrs. Ida Drews who wanted to share her granddaughter’s thoughtful Christian expressions; after recounting the “shocking” events of September 11th, Danielle continued to write . . . )
“In (our school’s) devotion we discussed how blessed we were that we had the Bible to comfort us. Whatever happens we can root ourselves in God’s Word. We have a reassurance that no terrorist can take away. We can also help the world by sharing the assurance of the Bible, especially during this time of uncertainty.”
Then, after quoting 2 Corinthians 1:3-7, Danielle continues:
“Let us remember this in all that comes: we have God on our side. God says that nobody can take us from his arms, not even the devil.
“We as Christians should also remember, however hard it may be, that our first thoughts towards these terrorists should be forgiveness. Just as Christ forgave His enemies as He died, we should also forgive those who harm us. One student sums it up, ‘we really need to pray for them.’ Pray not only for our friends, but for our enemies as well.”