83 – A Christian Response to Terrorism
As we all continue to grapple with the terrorist attacks on the United States, we join with you and the world to express our grief, sorrow, and condolences to the victims, survivors, and families of this tragedy.
We appreciate the tremendous sacrifices our relief and rescue workers have made. Thank you.
We congratulate, thank, and pay tribute to our leaders from all quarters. They have risen to the occasion with steady hands and sure minds. They have shown wisdom, restraint, and sobriety. They will all need our continuing prayers.
Particularly we praise our president-for his courage, resolve, and decisiveness. When president Kennedy was asked how he became a hero as the captain of a PT boat he said, “It was involuntary. They sunk my boat.” William Shakespeare once said, “Some men are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.” Like Kennedy, George W. Bush has had the opportunity for greatness thrust upon him, and he has not missed his moment.
We thank president Bush for his visibility, which has calmed and assured us. We appreciate him leading us in national mourning and prayer, inspiring rescue workers, calming our fears, expressing our outrage, stirring our higher natures to action, leading and urging us to greater tolerance, treating this as a military and not merely a criminal act, pledging the focus of his administration to stamp out terrorism, decisively implementing emergency security measures, demanding that every country declare whether they are for or against us, and for mobilizing our military.
We also thank president Bush for his humor in the ashes of adversity, which has made this more bearable. For quips like, “I’m not going to shoot a $2,000,000 missile at a $10 tent just to hit a camel in the butt.” Or, “They had a poster in the west, Wanted: Dead or Alive.” Or the already famous scene with the bullhorn surrounded by rescue workers chanting, “USA! USA! USA!” A man yells, “I can’t hear you!” to which the president responded, “Well, I can hear you. And soon the people who knocked down those buildings are going to hear from all of us.” And a cheer erupted among the men, as tears streamed down our faces.
Today, thoughtful people are asking questions . . . questions about God, evil, suffering, the future, what we should think, and how we should respond.
“What’s this all about?” Many of us must confess that we have not taken seriously the Christian belief in evil-the reality of a spiritual battle “against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12). Unfortunately, our culture has romanticized the devil into a mysterious Don Corleone instead of the vicious monster of pure evil that he is. A friend who grew up as a missionary kid in the Amazon said recently, “Satan does not conceal himself in the developing world like he does here in the States.” That appears to have changed.
“How can there be so much evil in the world?” That is the wrong question. The World Christian Encyclopedia reports that over 150,000 Christians are martyred every year (26 million in the 20th century)-about 25 times the number of victims of this tragedy each year. There are also the evils of murder, rape, abortion, war, child abuse, spouse abuse, AIDS, poverty, racism, and disease.
The correct question is, “Why do we see so little of the evil in the world?” We have not seen the extent of evil in the world, only a glimpse. God has pulled back the veil so we can see more of the evil in the world, but it is still only a small glimpse. If you and I could actually comprehend all the evil in the world on any given day, we might immediately rush out and commit suicide.
On the other hand, God’s gracious hand restrains most evil, or the whole world would dissolve back into utter chaos.
Do we live in a different world now? Yes, but in knowledge, not in fact. The world is no more evil today that it was before September 11th-we just know more now. However, that knowledge has changed things. The terrorists, unfortunately, were successful-no doubt far beyond what even they could have imagined. It’s a different world, at least for now.
Will the world continue be different? Hopefully. Do you find that a lot of things that seemed very important before September 11th are suddenly very trivial? The scales of triviality have broken away like the husk of a hard nut broken by a hard blow. What seemed appealing not long ago today seems foolish.
Should Christians retaliate? Edmund Burke once said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” The Old Testament says, “When a crime is not punished, people feel it is safe to do wrong” (Ecclesiastes 8:11). A clear danger offers a clear choice. Al-Qaeda is to Islam what the Ku Klux Klan is to Christianity.
What will happen now? We don’t know exactly what will happen. As the Secretary of the Treasury said, “This is an unexampled event.” This is no time for making predictions about the stock market, the economy, or other attacks. No doubt there will be many changes, near and long term. For example, indecency suddenly seems very indecent, even silly. In the Orlando newspaper, for example, page A-2 had been taken over in recent years by increasingly silly and salacious celebrity reports. Is the second page truly worthy of that which mostly appeals to our lower nature? Today page A-2 has taken a more sober turn.
What will happen spiritually? Reports are already coming in about the tremendous spiritual hunger this has created: Churches filled to Christmas capacities, attendance at our seminars up by as much as 50%, small groups are swollen with questioners, an unprecedented openness to the gospel in New York and elsewhere. We can be assured from Scripture that more good than evil will come from this tragedy.
HOW SHOULD WE RESPOND?
What does God require of us? 2 Chronicles 7:14 tells us what the church needs to know:
If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and heal their land.
First, we need to be humble. When God challenged Job to answer His questions, Job said, “I am nothing-how could I ever find the answers? I will put my hand over my mouth in silence. I have said too much already. I have nothing more to say” (Job 40:4-5). We must admit, like Job, that we do not know what God is doing. Let us be humble and not claim we do.
Second, we need to pray. A woman I work with suggested we pray that things, in one sense, do not get back to normal-that the sense of crisis would be prolonged until the full harvest for eternity has been brought in. The absolutely worst thing that could happen would be for life to quickly return to normal. May page A-2 never again return to the lusts of the flesh.
Third, we need to seek the face of God. This is an opportunity to break free from the strongholds of materialism, ambition, pornography, pride, and greed-all the idols that have addicted us. Let us turn our faces toward our wonderful Savior Jesus, whose outstretched arms signal the comfort he longs to give us.
Fourth, we need to repent. When Job saw the face of God (a face he had not been seeking) he said, “I had heard about you before, but now I have seen you with my own eyes. I take back everything I said, and I sit in dust and ashes to show my repentance” (Job 42:5-6). The root word for repent means something like “breathing deeply”-that feeling you get in your chest when your emotions are stricken. Let us each pledge to renew ourselves daily in the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ through faith and repentance.
Fifth, we need to seize the moment. “Who knows but that you have been placed where you are for such a time as this” (Esther 4:14). A window of spiritual hunger has opened. We do not know how long this window will remain open. I pray it will not close until you, personally, have found a way to serve your Savior in these days.
Business leader, author, and speaker, Patrick Morley helps men to think more deeply about their lives, to be reconciled with Christ, and to be equipped for a larger impact on the world.
©2000. Patrick M. Morley. All rights reserved. This may be reproduced with proper attribution for non-commercial purposes.