Monday, September 12, 2011

The Answer to 9/11 Has Been and Continues to be the Gospel of Jesus Christ

Yesterday our national commemorated the 9/11 attacks that occurred ten years ago.  Anyone who was sentient on that day remembers where they were and what they were doing when they came the to stark reality that we were actually under attack.  When the shock of the day began to wear off, what we were left with was fear, anger, and despair.  I was no different than anyone else as I went through that day.  An event of that magnitude was beyond any kind of prayer I could mutter and so my prayer was simply "Jesus be glorified."  The world was scared, hurt, and confused and only we in Christ had the answers. 
But Simon Peter answered Him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."  John 6:68-69 NKJV
Before I get more into the meat of my message, I would like to share my experience on that day and the rest of that week.  I was at work when news began to come in of a small plane hitting the World Trade Center.  We had no radio or television in our office and the news websites were so crowded that we were unable to get through to see what had happened. Soon we heard of another plane hitting the other tower.  That is when reality set in.  this was no terrible accident.  This was a vicious attack.  No one had any idea how many planes were going to hit how many buildings.  There were false reports of car bombs and other planes hijacked.  It was a harrowing day.  At some point, the planes were all landed and we began to breathe a sigh of relief that anything new was over.  Then the towers fell down.  There is nothing I can say about that moment or what it felt like, but I think that anyone who remembers understands just what I am saying.  It was an event so horrible, so unreal that my mind just did not want to accept it.  It could not accept it.  I went home from work in a fog thinking that I will just spend the night praying and watching television to try and make some sense over what was happening.  I was sure that my youth prison ministry would be canceled for the evening.  Then I got the phone call.  Not only was it not canceled, but the juvenile prison called to make sure we were coming in.  It was at that moment when I realized that my role was not to sit and grieve, but to help others through their grief.  I realized that my role was not to sit back and wonder why but to share the only real answer that there was.  That answer, of course, was Jesus.  Even if I did not fully understand how, I knew He was the answer.  Over the next several days, I ministered to many, mostly youth, regarding that day.  Form gang members now asking questions about God and about how to join the army (yes, even they were patriotic that day) to inner city kids making sense of a confusing situation to a Saturday night Sunday school class filled with over seventy children ages eleven to thirteen all trying to make sense of the event of their lifetimes, that was my reality.  I preached a message of Jesus to those who did not know Him and the message of sharing Jesus to those who did. 

Jesus is the only answer to the events on 9/11.  Jesus alone could provide hope and meaning behind the events of that day.  Jesus is also the only one who can provide true comfort for what happened that day.  I remember how swollen our churches were that weekend.  I remember people desperately seeking answers and comfort for what happened.  Many churches did a wonderful job, but sadly many did not.  Many unfortunately were more interested in being inclusive and politically correct than they were about preaching the truth.  While many turned to the Lord as a result of that day, many other chances were squandered. 

One thing that really bothered me were churches that either hosted or were a part of ecumenical memorial services.  I understand the position a church is in to choose to not participate if invited, but we need to stop trying to help God by compromising our values.  I can not believe that the true God would desire us to share a stage with the promotion of false gods and false gospels.  It brings our God to their level.  It makes the true God seem like just one of the gods that people associate with.  There can be no true answers given by a rabbi who does not acknowledge Jesus.  There can especially be no comfort from an Islamic Imam as it was his religion that perpetuated this crime.  There is certainly no comfort in an atheist logically reasoning the unreasonable.  No other preacher, teacher, promoter, minister, or believer of any other false religion or gospel was able to give the answers and comfort that the people needed.  Why would we choose to devalue God to share a stage with their gods?  But that is what we do.  That is what was done even yesterday.  The Southern Baptists were upset that they were not invited to be represented at the national ecumenical event.  They should have been rejoicing.  They were not put in the position to have to decline.  Not only that, but if this was a case of persecution, then all the more reason to rejoice.  

Another problem I had and still have is that many, even many Christians, are still preaching anger.  What happened that day was a terrible thing.  Those that perpetuated it deserve the harshest justice that the world can give.  After 9/11, I raised my flag and prayed for God to give us a swift victory in the war to come. I did not rejoice in war, but I knew it was necessary. But even in war, it was (for me) about justice and not about revenge.  Revenge is up to the Lord.  Justice for evil was a function given by God to earthly government.  That said, the yearning for justice and the lust for vengeance are two different things.  Vengeance is personal kind of anger that we have no right under God to hold onto.  I have heard it said in this past week that anger was part of healing.  I disagree.  Anger is the lack of healing.  Anger is the evident wound of a wrong not forgiven.  Forgiveness is healing. Loving our enemies is healing.  I remember even praying for the terrorists.  I did that because Jesus is even the answer for them.  There are several former terrorists-turned-Christian spreading a message of love instead of their former acts of hate.  If you want to fight terrorism, we must fight the spirit behind terrorism.  Satan is the motivator of that sin.  The Bible tells us that our battle is not against flesh and blood.  That is even true for terrorism.  The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the single greatest weapon we can have against terrorism.

And that is all I really want to say today.  Tragedies will happen in our life.  As Christians, our job is not to promote other faiths in some kind of symbolic ecumenical display.  Jesus can not be bound with any other faiths. The Bible says that Christ has no fellowship with Belial and so we should not try to create it.  We must stand on the gospel and the gospel alone.  We must show that Jesus is different and real and that it is not just one of the religion choices we have.  Sure you can choose to believe what you want, but only one belief is true.  Only Jesus is the savior.  When times get tough, we must stand as beacons of light.  It is only us who will lead them to safe shores.  God has raised us up for times such as 9/11 and any other tragedy that this world faces.  We must stand and answer that call as the souls of many are seeking for the answers we have. 
Blessed [be] the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.  2 Corinthians 1:3-4 NKJV

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