This will probably be the last time I write specifically about the topic of the 9-11 terrorist attacks. After years of writing about this, I don’t think there’s much else for me to say. Each year on the anniversary I write an article discussing how far we’ve come and the mistakes we continue to make. Year after year, I noticed that the articles got less and less political in nature while getting increasingly theological. Indeed, I’m convinced that America’s problem is a spiritual one. Everything from our numerous wars to our bad economy to the increasing lawlessness in our land is indicative of God’s wrath.
Scripture makes it clear (particularly in Romans 1) that God’s wrath is poured out whenever he gives an individual–or even a whole nation–over to sin. It’s not even the sinful acts themselves, but merely the open toleration of them, which shows this process of being given over to sin. Think of the numerous sins we tolerate in this nation today: the murder of unborn children, rampant greed, sexual immorality, unjust warfare, and so forth. All of this and yet we demand that God not judge us. We demand of God protection and all things we do not deserve. And we are loathe to admit that the only thing we deserve is His wrath.
I hear the question asked often around this time of year: “Where were you on 9-11?” My answer is that I was not where I was supposed to be…on my knees in repentance. As Christians, we allowed ourselves to get swept up in the rampant nationalism of the time. Talk of God’s judgment and repentance was nowhere on the radar, save a few Christians who were bold enough to proclaim it (and were subsequently vilified for it). The Stars & Stripes quickly replaced the Cross as the symbol of Christianity in America. As John Calvin rightly pointed out, the human mind is a constant factory of idols. Nationalism is our favorite idol in America.
And with war comes hate. Instead of wanting to preach the Gospel to the Muslims, we instead wanted to bomb them into oblivion. The American church was more than content to substitute soldiers for missionaries. We bought into the bright shining lie that “spreading democracy” throughout the Middle East would somehow quell the violence and extremism. Nothing could be further from the truth, for this is a problem of the heart. Acts like 9-11 are the result of the wickedness found in every man. No amount of human government will halt this or otherwise ameliorate the human condition.
For ten years we have been engaged in what seems to be an endless war. Bin Laden is dead. So what now? Where do we go from here? What is our objective? There doesn’t seem to be one. Without getting overly political here, I will say that our current foreign policy is a complete failure. Our domestic policy of erasing constitutional liberties in the name of security is also void of success. We like to pat ourselves on the back and pretend we’re actually making ourselves safer. All the while we miss the larger point.
And the larger point is this: only the Gospel will change both the terror-ridden Middle East as well as spiritually-dead America. If the Lord is willing, He will save a multitude from each. He is sovereign over all things. 9-11 didn’t catch Him by surprise. He ordained that these events come to pass. Scripture is clear that God judges nations as well as individuals. He is not blind to the evils perpetuated by America and the West as a whole. Most assuredly, He will not tolerate the holocaust of abortion much longer.
We ought to keep this in mind as we reflect on this tragedy ten years later. The images will no doubt remain in our minds, but how often do we ponder the holiness of God? How often do we consider those things which offend Him? Rather than putting all the blame on a specific group of sinners, the profound reality is that all of us bear guilt and are in need of repentance. How long will it take for the American church to see this? I sincerely hope it doesn’t take another ten years. Let us pray that God grants us the grace to repent, giving us ears to hear and eyes to see.