I wrote this on September 25, 2001.
A Transforming Initiative / Declaration of Faithfulness
Rebuild Afghanistan! That is the call of God to the church today. It is the call of God to all people everywhere, of all faiths and nationalities. The evil of the few will not bring our wrath on the many, we will not be defined by their hatred and not be reduced to their revenge. Christians are to be characterized by our Jesus, who did and taught more than mere lack of anger or retaliation. He called us to initiate new and better relationships by being reconciled to our enemies by seeking their good. In the face of adversity, the followers of Jesus feed and clothe, shelter and comfort. And by so doing we win the true victory in true power by revealing the very way of God. We will be called builders of streets with homes for we have learned that mercy is better than sacrifice, we will spend ourselves on behalf of the hungry for our food loses its flavor when we eat only with those who can feed us.
Our mourning and fasting for the fallen in New York City, Washington D.C., and Pennsylvania will not end in quarreling and strife, but with the rebuilding of ancient ruins and age-old foundations. We will not be seduced into selfishness and pride and focus only on our selves and our cities, we will neither wallow in self-pity nor lash out as we have been lashed. We will respond with overwhelming mercy, compassion and desire for reconciliation that challenges the very foundations of the world. We do not buy peace, but willingly and joyfully sacrifice ourselves for our God who leads us toward each other. We will neither lie about our righteousness nor lie about our enemies, instead we will speak truthfully about the sins of the many who have enjoyed prosperity and luxury at the expense of much of the rest of the world. We, the followers of Jesus, have learned well that we are continually to be removing the logs from our eyes so that we will not be the blind leading the blind into the pit. No! We acknowledge our sins, and in view of God’s mercy offer ourselves as living sacrifices. And as acts of worship we will devote our time, effort, work, money, and resources of all kinds to building infrastructures that help the people of Afghanistan. Effort and expense for the United States will be matched and devoted to Afghanistan. Unselfishness and concern for the hurting will outshine all else.
Criticism and rejection from those who would scoff at this path of reconciliation is expected and even understood. But that changes not the fact that this is the way of God and that forgiveness and redemption are better than bitterness and retribution. Loving those who love not in return, lending to those who do not repay, and doing good to those who do no good for you leads to exclusion, insulting, and rejection by many. But this is a time for the church to be hated because of the Son of Man, to rejoice and leap for joy because we are being treated as the prophets were. This is not a time to be rich, well fed, or applauded as the false prophets. Knowing that judgment, condemnation, and forgiveness are pressed down, shaken together, and poured back into our laps with the very measure we use to dish them out, we will be faithful and dish out mercy until it overwhelms our enemies. For God is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked (and we recognize ourselves in that description), and we are to be merciful just as he is.
Rebuild Afghanistan! Though the savagery of war has barely touched the United States, violence has taken its toll on that land for decades. The call of God to the church around the globe, and especially the offended ones in America, is to root out the perpetrators that remain and eat with them. The church knows that vengeance is not ours, that God will repay; and he has chosen to repay by having his people overcome evil with good. That is neither an abstract principal nor an unreachable ideal, it is as concrete as concrete. We do not rely on other political entities to do this, we are a political entity and our politics are those of Jesus. As his body on this earth, as the transformed ones who no longer regard anyone from a worldly perspective, we practice and live the service of reconciliation.
Therefore, we let the world know that people around the globe are uniting and raising funds to rebuild Afghanistan. This is happening before any American violence even takes place there, for our action is not to be reactive but proactive. But how can we do this for a nation that oppresses women the way the Taliban does? Please consider, if nations can kill these same women and call them collateral damage, then we can build them homes with running water, electricity, and toilets. If some nations can kill hundreds of thousands of Arab people and still build for themselves at home, we can build for a nation that kills in proportion. All are called to account for their selfishness and violence, and all enemies of the Way are invited to dinner. Even those in Afghanistan.
- Paul Alexander
September 25, 2001