We remember the palpable fear as another plane crashed into the Pentagon and another into the fields of Pennsylvania. The entire world seemed to close in around us as shock set in.
All that we knew in our country was suddenly running through our hands. Three thousand people lost their lives on the day that the War on Terror became vividly real.
The unforgettable images will always be with us. The people running through Manhattan covered in smoke; people leaping from burning buildings; rescue workers running into certain death; strangers becoming blood brothers. For the only time in its existence, New Yorkers came together as one.
The resolve that the nation felt after the attacks was invigorating. The entire Congress standing as one against our enemies, something almost unprecedented, steeled our convictions. Recruiting offices were flooded as young men and women prepared to defend their nation.
Years have passed and perspective offers spiritual lessons that we can gain from the terrible event. Tragedy is nothing new to the course of men.
Jesus addressed these kinds of disasters in Luke 13:1-5. His message is sobering because he knows more about the nature of man and sin than we can ever know. Jesus says that disasters will continue to come. All we can do is to ensure that our souls are ready to face God.
The lessons from the tragedy live with us today.
First, Satan is continually active in this world (1 Peter 5:8). His fingerprints are on every evil act and plot. Yet, they become invisible when authorities place blame and his laughter rings through the land. He has escaped responsibility again as we blind ourselves to his evil.
Second, not every religious person is of God (Matthew 7:21-23). Each of the hijackers were very religious people, set to die for their god. Those who foolishly attribute all “believers” as being Christians or even godly, bring blessings to Satan’s cause (Ephesians 4:4-6).
Third, God is seasonal (Matthew 10:38; Matthew 22:37-38). Religious imagery and interest blanketed the homes of America after the attacks. However, days passed and God was soon ushered onto the back porch and forgotten.
Fourth, everything is marketable. Patriotism became a multi-billion dollar business and it touched everything imaginable.
God’s Church has not been immune to such abuse. He calls us to be genuine, respectful and holy (1 Corinthians 10:31; Acts 8:14-25). When we use him for profit, we will find his wrath (Hebrews 10:31).
Fifth, heroism is unselfishness. The bravery of men and women on September 11 was breathtaking. Whether it was a firefighter rushing into a burning building, or passengers of Flight 93 sending their plane into a fiery crash, rather than into government buildings, we remember the power of unselfishness. Relief organizations received so much money they had problems putting it into action.
God asks us to harness this power every day as we open our hearts and hands to the hurting and lost around us (Matthew 25:31-46).
More terrorist attacks may come in the future. We must be prepared by having our souls ready for judgment (Revelation 20:11-15). In the meantime, we must put these lessons back into action and be just as involved helping others as we were then.
Finally, we ask, will we ever feel the urgency to save the lost as we felt to help the victims on September 11?