The Words of the Stallings Family
Spirituality with a True Love Foundation
by The Most Reverend George Augustus Stallings, Jr., D.D.
From an address to the session "New Directions in Foreign Policy in the Quest for Global Peace," at Assembly 2001, Sunday, October 21, 2001
An unprecedented tragedy of biblical proportions wreaked havoc upon the American landscape on Tuesday, September 11, 2001. "A day that will live in infamy" took on a renewed sense of historic significance. The unleashing of hell through horrific acts of terrorism clearly demonstrated the depths of manís inhumanity toward man and manifested a complete disregard for the sanctity and the inestimable value of human life. Let no one be deceived and make no mistake about it: on Tuesday, September 11th hate killed, not religion! Whether unjustifiable in the eyes of some or justifiable in the eyes of those who deemed their acts as righteous indignation, the reality is: HATE killed!
On that terrible and evil day, there was hardly a single person whose heart was not rent and whose faith was not shaken to the depths of its foundation. The community of the world, while enraged, especially Americans, were engaged in an endless search of answers, asking: "Where was God on Tuesday, September 11th? How could God have allowed such a heinous criminal act? How could He permit evil and sinister forces to consume so many innocent lives? How could He, how could He, how could He?
The question that cries out for an urgent response is not: "Where was God?" Believers already know the answer to that question. God was there all the time! The more pressing question is: "Where was God in us and where has God been in our lives and everyday affairs? Where has God been in the choices and decisions we have made? Why have we ignored our obligation and responsibility toward one another?" Somebody needs to blow the trumpet. Someone needs to sound the alarm. Too few of us have exercised the Nehemiahan charge of "standing in the gap." That is why we have come here at this time of global violence: crisis and hope, to become like Nehemiah, standing in the gap and searching for the solutions to critical global problems as we seek new directions, new possibilities in formulating our foreign policy in our quest for global peace.
Furthermore, the question is not how could God permit all these terrible things to happen. The shocking reality is that we permitted such things to happen by the tapestry of life we have woven. Our thoughts and gestures, acts of commission and omission and the way we have apportioned unto ourselves that which we deem essential and beneficial to our own well being and self aggrandizement have come back to haunt us. By our own deeds we, as a world community, have sown the seeds that would inevitably lead to mass destruction and desolation.
The enemy has invaded America. But, who is the enemy; where is the enemy and how do we smoke out the enemy in such a way that, in retaliating, we do not stoop to the level of becoming the fanatics we deplore? Beyond that, once we have captured and destroyed the enemy, will our world be freed of terrorism and horrific displays of annihilative behavior? The solution to our current predicament is not by responding with swift and unmeasured military prowess anchored in imprudent retaliation. The solution lies within the moral resolve of nations and their people willing to rise above demonic influences and partisan agendas.
In times like these, few of us seek solace or find consolation in the Biblical admonition: "Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, ĎVengeance is Mine, I will repay,í says the Lord." Romans 12:19
That which was once thought to be inviolable and sacrosanct has now been turned into chaos and rage. The urgency of the hour compels us to conduct a national and international inventory of our collective hurt and pain, anger and grief, frustration and loss and determine how we can maintain our sanity without losing our souls. As America searches for justice, she must not make the terrible and incalculable mistake of falling into revenge. To do so would be to capitulate to the diabolical powers of destruction, death and doom that cry out for more American blood.
Americaís leaders must develop patience in their efforts to extract justice. Peace cannot be secured within her borders while relentlessly and aggressively pursuing the prince of darkness. Destroying precious resources and killing countless innocent lives, while hunting down and killing Osama bin Laden, will not bring terrorism to a screeching halt! Such a pursuit would only multiply the darkness because it would fuel the fires of aggression and hate. We must not find pleasure in killing the flesh but healing the spirit that has given way to savagery and brutality.
For the Bible tells us: "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." Ephesians 6:12
The evil deeds of deranged perpetrators will not endure. The purveyors of evil and darkness did not, have not and will not deter or destroy all of us, as nations of the world, in working to bring about global peace and harmony among all men and women.
It is high time that we, as a world community, take stock of what we have been and what we will become. Could it be that God is calling us to take a high moral ground so that we might lead the world to true and lasting peace by the way we respond to those who would seek to destroy or instill fear within us? Our response and attitude must show the demons of this world that we are more faithful to Godís laws than the urge to seek revenge.
My brothers and sisters, God is watching us! From the White House to your house, to my house, yes, God is watching us and desiring that we win the true victory of our noble calling. It is our divine mandate to prove to our God, the world and ourselves that we know that true love and living for the sake of others will restore lasting peace to our land.
When all has been said and done, let our legacy, as a people and global community, be to future generations that there existed a people who, despite all odds, led the world with a love of God and humanity. They conquered evil by refusing to be seduced by hatred and revenge. And, for that reason, we as a people, shall forever be called Godís people, a peculiar people, a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation that God has set apart to bring about world peace. There can be no peace without justice. No justice, no peace. The reality is that, as people of the world, we will not be able to change the course of foreign policy and bring about global peace until we look deep down within ourselves and become peacemakers in our own hearts.
Michael Jackson said: "Iím starting with the man in the mirror and Iím asking him to change his ways. And, no message could have been any clearer: ĎIf you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and make that change.í" Let us make that change so that when we sit at the table to make foreign policy we might do so with a spirituality that has true love as its foundation and a commitment to sacrifice and live for the sake of others as the driving force in making this world a better place than when we inherited it.
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