The LORD is king forever and ever;
the nations perish from his land.
O LORD, you hear the desire of the afflicted;
you will strengthen their heart; you will incline your ear
to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed,
so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more.
(Psalm 10:16-18, ESV)
(This essay was added on September 12.)
September 11 will forever be a day for Americans to "remember." You can't read a single write-up about 9/11 without encountering that word.
But what should Christians "remember" when they think about September 11? Some remembrances are easy. We should pray for the victims of the attack and for those who perpetrated it. And we should pray for the families of the victims and the perpetrators, and for all those who suffered because of the attack. We should remember the sinfulness of mankind, and that those who masquarade their evil worldview under the guise of "religion" are perhaps the most dangerous people of all.
Events like 9/11 bring out the best and the worst in us. Death and destruction on such a large scale, wrought solely by the hands of men, challenges our comprehension. Tales of courage and selfless acts of heroism abound, yet at the same time anger burns within our mortal hearts.
We crave eternal damnation for the perpetrators of such evil, and we vow to kill those who conspired to plan and execute such barbarity in order to avenge the deaths of the innocent.
But as Christians, I believe that we should use occasions like 9/11 primarily to remember a simple truth: divine justice is God's and God's alone. When God gave Moses The Law, he instructed him thusly:
When your son asks you in time to come, 'What is the meaning of the testimonies and the statutes and the rules that the LORD our God has commanded you?' then you shall say to your son, 'We were Pharaoh's slaves in Egypt. And the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand. And the LORD showed signs and wonders, great and grievous, against Egypt and against Pharaoh and all his household, before our eyes. And he brought us out from there, that he might bring us in and give us the land that he swore to give to our fathers.' (Deuteronomy 6:20-23 ESV, emphasis added)
It is our mistake to conclude that the nation of Israel, or any other group of people engaged in warfare for what seems like a holy cause, fought battles solely of their own accord. The Old Testament is filled with examples of godly men going forth into battle -- and emerging victorious -- when God ordains the battle and makes his will known through prophetic messages. The power required for victory comes directly from God, not from the will or ambitions of man.
As a Christian, I do not believe that God continues to sanction "holy war." Jesus Christ emerged victorious over mankind's sins and over the powers and principalities of the Earth through the process of his death, resurrection, and ascention.
The government of the United States, a secular entity if
ever there was one, has decided to engage in warfare against terrorists.
It is not a divinely sanctioned war. Rather it is simply what our government is expected to do: to provide for the common defense. As mortal humans, we consider
it an absolute necessity to use force to vanquish the powers of evil.
Even though we Americans make every effort to conduct warfare with as
much care as possible, we rationalize the death of innocents as a part
of the cost of war.
I believe that if the United States intends to pursue this war, it is in the best interest of humanity for us to totally commit ourselves to its purpose. For history has shown repeatedly that half-hearted wars, bogged down with cease fires and protracted negotiations cost far more lives in the long run. Our enemy is a master of propaganda and meaningless rhetoric. Negotiation is one of his greatest weapons, because it gives him the opportunity to indefinitely continue killing and eventually draining us of the will to fight.
But at the same time, Christians should understand that we are not fighting for God. The United States of America is not the "new Israel," and President Bush has not been sent by God to judge the unrighteous. We Americans and Westerners are fighting to save America and Western Civilization. The cause is noble, but not divine. The gates of Hell will not prevail against the Gospel. God does not need our help.
What should Christians do, then? We should pray for everyone. We should make every effort as civilians to engage and befriend civilians in foreign and hostile lands, for evil becomes much less palatable when we see each other as individuals bearing the image of God, rather than a collective "great Satan."
We should not be afraid to expose the truth about evil. Jesus Christ ministered to the poor, the sick, the marginalized and forgotten in his land. Yet he stood up to the keepers of the Law, the ones who were supposed to be taking care of the marginalized and forgotten. Jesus never hid the truth in order to try and make everyone happy. This is the biggest failing of today's "peace" movement: they would rather appease evil than confront and expose it. The price of such exposure can be high -- Jesus paid with his life -- but it is the right thing to do. We should understand that whitewashing the evil of Islamofascism means that we will be even more at its mercy in the future.
And finally, we should not take it upon ourselves to undermine the efforts of the United States government or the United States military. As an armchair historian, I can safely say that the United States in no way resembles a fascist state, despite the hysterical cries of the kook Left. When we see evil, we should expose it. When there is room improvement, we should work to make it happen. But I do not believe that God "approves" of those who seek to undermine and destroy our own government any more than he "approves" of our efforts to do the same in other nations.
9/11 can be the start of a true global effort to end suffering and evil through the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ. But left to the devices of mankind, it can be used to usher in an era of suffering and warfare, or it can be the beginning of a dark future in which we try to appease evil and eventually allow ourselves to succumb to the will of desperate men who wish to plunge the world back into the 8th century, all in the name of "peace." The choice is ours. When we remember 9/11, I pray that those memories help to ensure that our choices will be the right ones.