The first and only time I visited Maria at the North Tower of the World Trade Center was shortly after we learned that she was working there. “I’m okay” is the phone call my mom received from Maria on February 26, 1993, the first time the WTC was attacked. Maria had a bizarre sense for surprises, this was one of them: she shared that she was now working in the WTC and that she was ok. She also promised that day that, if it ever happens again, she would be the first one out. We took some comfort in knowing that, but in hindsight anyone that knew Maria knew that she would be helping others before she saved herself.
When Sheryl and I visited her several years later, the panic of that bombing day was long-forgotten. Her office was spectacular; you could see the entire New York metropolis! I remember standing on the street looking up at the World Trade Center – in classic tourist mode – amazed at the size! Anyone that stood in that spot could have never imagined those buildings tumbling down.
That day in her office I learned what she thought of my faith, describing me to her co-workers as a “Conservative Christian”. Now, I like to believe that the evidence is clear that I am a follower of Christ (flawed yes but still a follower)! Yet I don’t believe Christ would support many of the conservative doctrines of today’s Christians, just as He would not support many of the liberal doctrines of today’s Christians.
Christ’s most vivid example, demonstrated for us, was an act of Love. Followers of Christ believe that He gave his life for us, the ultimate sacrifice. This was not something that was mandated by the local government or by the local church: He chose to do this, seeking our best interests. The examples of early Christians selling everything to help their brothers and sisters was not a government mandate, they were acts of Love: they were given a great gift that they wanted to share! More recent examples of Christian prohibitions on just about everything remind me of the rules of the Old Testament, which Christ came to abolish.
Bottom line, when you suck the ‘Love ’ out of the transaction, you have strayed far from the path that Christ paved for us. If you are only doing something because the government or the local church elect have said you have to do it, chances are the ‘Love’ is gone.
Seeking people’s best interests – Loving them – was something that my sister did very well (I was actually blessed with two sisters good at that!). Maria may have been guilty of occasionally sucking the fun out of something (the simple act of eating around her qualifies there), but so many things she did were full of Love: she did not suck the Love out of things!
And as horrific a day that 9/11/2001 was, I can think of no greater example in my life or the history that I’ve studied of the outpouring of love – of people seeking the best interests of those around them – as what happened on 9/12/2001, and in the days and months following. The first responders in search of survivors, in search of the first responders from the day before. The families who stayed home from work for days just to hug their kids, their siblings, their parents.
This year for 9/11 I reminded my kids of whom they belong to. As followers of Christ, we are inheritor’s to His Kingdom, we are children of God. While that does plump us full of love like big juice grapes, Christ ultimately wants all that love squeezed out of us, being shared with everyone around us! If we did more of that, we probably wouldn’t care who was running for President! 😉