A Christian Response

A Christian Response to the World Trade Center Attack

It is 11:15 a.m. on September 11, 2001, as I write this - just hours after the World Trade Center towers in New York collapsed from terrorist attacks.

Though we will not know official statistics of the tragedy for some time, this thing we all know already: we will never be able to measure the depth of grief and pain over the deaths and injuries suffered today. My prayers go out for the thousands of damaged families.

Like countless others, I am still reeling from the impact of what I am watching unfold this morning. I am still not wanting to believe that I just witnessed a plane full of people die in a fiery instant. The image of two collapsing towers crushing thousands of people is a living nightmare now etched forever in my mind.

But even as I struggle to process the horror now filling every news channel, a much greater Voice is broadcasting to my spirit as God ministers truth to me even in this tragedy. We desperately need His perspective in such times!

If our response were merely political, then that would perhaps be the greatest tragedy of all these events. God calls us to something far deeper, to something eternal. We have been granted divine lessons, warnings, and callings.

Yes, God is a compassionate God. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, wept at the death of his friend Lazarus (just before raising Lazarus from the dead in John 11.) God is a God of comfort and healing for the brokenhearted. God is grieved at the hateful act of murder committed in the sight of the whole world today. As Christians, we should also be greatly grieved at what we have seen today, and be ready to comfort and help as much as we can.

But there are other aspects of God we dare not ignore. What else could He be saying to us in this tragedy?

Hours ago the collapse of the World Trade Center towers killed many people. If Jesus Christ walked the earth today, what might He say about this event?

During the time of Christ, a tower fell, killing eighteen people. Jesus said, "Those eighteen who died when the tower of Siloam fell on them - do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish!" (Luke 13:4-5).

Death reminds us of a graver issue: our eternity. God greatest concern is our relationship with Him. He cares about our eternal souls. All of us must face death, whether it comes tragically or naturally. But then we face eternity - and how we spend that eternity is the direct result of our relationship to God while we walk this earth. The people killed today in those crashed planes and crumbled towers are now beginning their eternities - whether in heaven or hell. We shall soon face eternity as well.

God has declared every one of us guilty of sin against Him. But in His love for us, even though we are all imperfect and sinful, He sent His Son Jesus Christ to earth as a man, to die on the cross for us. Jesus' death paid the penalty God demands against our sin. God then raised the sinless Christ to life again and took Him up to heaven.

Our eternity boils down to our response to that act of God. If we put our faith in Jesus Christ alone as God's Son who died for our sins and was raised, then God forgives us through Christ, and we spend eternity with Him. But if we reject Jesus, there is no other way to be purified before God, and we will bear God's righteous judgment against sin forever (John 3:16-18,36). One choice, eternal consequences - trust Christ, or reject Him. In the past, God has greatly judged those who reject Him.

Did you see two BUILDINGS fall today? Consider this: In His righteousness, God has destroyed two entire CITIES - Sodom and Gomorrah - because they would not turn to Him. Before that, because of the wickedness of man, God had flooded the entire WORLD, sparing only obedient Noah and his family (Genesis chapters 6 and 19).

I am not saying that God destroyed those buildings today. But He did allow it to happen. Sometimes destruction is the judgment of God, at others it is the result of wicked human sin, just as when Cain, the first murderer, killed his own brother Abel.

Regardless of cause, God speaks powerfully to us through tragedy. As I watched those buildings collapse and kill thousands, I pictured in my mind what it must have been like when God rained fire on those two cities of old, or collapsed the massive walls of Jericho. God promises there is more destruction to come, on a scale that dwarfs anything we have seen.

What we saw today was a chilling preview of the coming end of the world. The book of Revelation is dedicated to God's final dealings with earthly man, as He gives one last set of chances - during severe plagues, tragedies, and wars - for man to turn to Him before facing eternity. Between God's coming judgments and man's wicked acts like we saw today, our future is anything but peaceful.

As I watched the World Trade Centers pouring smoke into the sky for miles, I pictured the coming destruction of a similar "World Trade Center" - Babylon. In Revelation 17 and 18, God destroys this carnal city of trade. Afterward the merchants of the world cry out, "Woe, woe, the great city, in which all who had ships at sea become rich by her wealth, for in one hour she has been laid waste!" (Rev. 18:19). Consider the similarity: This morning, in the space of a few short hours, we watched two long-standing monuments to world trade be reduced to a pile of smoking rubble.

Remember Christ's words - He did not say that those in Siloam's collapsing tower were "more sinful" than others. But Christ Himself used that event as a warning of things to come. When we see God's actions in the past, and see what He has promised in the future - especially when we see the parallels in what happened today - we should quickly turn to Him with contrite hearts.

Christians, let us not lie to ourselves. America is NOT a spiritual natio n. We are lukewarm and growing colder. Pornography flourishes. Marriages crumble in divorce. Our radio, movies, magazines, and television media are sinking into moral sewage. Homosexuality is spreading. Material gain is the god of many.

Are you grieved at the deaths of the innocents in those buildings today? Down the street from where I write this is an abortion clinic that single-handedly butchers over a thousand innocent infants a year - who cries for them? We have a nation that supports abortion, while the blood of the infant slain cries out to the Creator.

I repeat, let us not lie to ourselves - we are a wicked nation, in need of the exact repentance Christ spoke about when discussing the fall of Siloam's tower.

This morning the world has witnessed a direct and effective attack during peacetime on what is arguably the mightiest free nation on earth, humanly speaking. Yet for the thousands of victims, there was no security today against evil, against death.

We were given a deafening reminder that tragedy can strike us all, and that death is a universal truth. Our only hope and security must be only in God, who has set the boundaries of our days on earth, who holds eternity in His hand, and who determines where each of us will spend that eternity. Yet do we turn to Him in times of tragedy, much less honor Him with our lives during times of peace? Where is your security?

"While they are saying, 'Peace and safety!', then destruction will come upon them suddenly like birth pangs upon a woman with child, and they shall not escape." (I Thess. 5:3). "...In the last days, mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, 'Where is the promise of His coming?'... But the present heavens and earth by His word are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men... But the Lord is not slow about His promise [to return]... but He is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish, but for all to come to repentance." (I Peter 3:3-9).

What happened today in our physical world should be a warning to the spiritual climate of America. In the visible realm, compared to the rest of the world, America is strong in economic and military might. Yet two of America's proudest buildings were destroyed in a few hours!

Spiritually, America considers itself strong - but just looking at the bad fruit of sin around us proves this is false. God said, "Because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. Because you say - 'I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,' and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked" (Rev. 3:16-17).

In the prophet Daniel's time, Babylon was the mightiest city on earth. King Belshazzar held a brash feast honoring his own prosperity, using even the utensils of God's temple as party ware. But God wrote Babylon's doom on the wall, and that same night mighty Babylon fell as the Medes and Persians invaded (Daniel 5). Like the Medes and Persians crouched outside of Babylon's walls, sin crouches at the door of every one of our hearts, and it's desire is to have us, to destroy us - as it is already destroying our nation. Was today's event some "writing on the wall" for us? God often allowed Israel's enemies to harm them when they turned away from Him and put their security in other things.

Individually, and as a nation, let us fully receive from God the lessons, callings, and warnings we have been graced with today, and turn to the Lord, begging Him to fill us with fresh resolve. God said, "If my people, who are called by My name will humble themselves and pray, and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin, and heal their land." (1 Chronicles 7:14)

Although my stomach was in knots this morning as I watched the mounting destruction, my heart was quickened as the Holy Spirit moved me to respond, to deepen my commitment to live for God to the utmost, to turn from sin, to further realize the brevity of life and the importance of eternity for every man, woman, and child.

I pray that this tragedy will have the SPIRITUAL effect of a "Pearl Harbor." The bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941 transformed America into a nation united at heart, filled with a mighty resolve to respond and overcome. In the same way, I pray that these events spur us to become a SPIRITUALLY united nation, truly "one nation under God". May God use this tragedy to turn us and galvanize our wills to live for Him together.

I pray that churches and Christians stop focusing on the petty, on the mundane, on quarrels and divisions. May we as one body commit ourselves to repentance and spreading the message of Jesus Christ to a lost and sinful world on the brink of God's judgment.

I pray that today's terrorist act - this stab of hate - will be buried in an avalanche of God's love and righteousness as people turn to Christ and live for Him, spreading His life and truth to the world.

I pray that millions would find life in Christ as a result of the deaths of these thousands.

I pray that Christians would be thinking spiritually as these events unfold, and be strong witnesses to those around them, that many may come to faith in Jesus.

I pray for we would all be convicted to fulfill the Great Commission, to learn to share the gospel, and to do it as a lifestyle.

I pray that Christians will show utmost love and care to the friends and families of those injured and killed today. Father, comfort those people with Your peace.

I pray for our enemies, as Christ commanded - that those who caused this act would repent and turn to faith in Jesus Christ for salvation.

I pray for our leaders, as God commanded us to do, that they would wisely lead our nation in this dark hour.

I pray that ourleaders would each individually repent and live for Christ alone.

I pray that President Bush would not see this tragedy as merely a political issue, but also as God's call to our nation to restore our relationship with Him. And Lord, for our nation - "deliver us from evil..."

I also pray for the "peace of Jerusalem". If America can be struck so boldly, what about little Israel, who the terrorist organizations despise so much? Lord, protect your people, and turn their hearts toward your Son.

And I pray for myself - God, have mercy on me, a sinner. Change my life permanently as a result of what I have experienced today. Help me deny myself and live my short life only for the risen Christ, who died for my sins and rose again. My faith is in Christ, my only Savior, Security, and Hope - and in His name, I pray. Come quickly, Lord Jesus! (Rev. 22:20)

"If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved." (Romans 10:9)

September 11, 2001

Jim Wyatt
Evangelism Administrator
East-West Ministries International

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