The calendar date alone haunts us because the numbers match what we dial in an emergency. Pictures of the horrific scenes draw out of our memories the fear and tears of that macabre day. Hearing stories such as this one of a wife receiving ten years later a note her husband had written before he perished in a tower causes us to grieve for the losses once again. What a day of evil 9/11/2001 was.
Yet there is a greater evil, friend, and I plead with you to be aware of it.
This greater evil is to reject Jesus as the only Lord and Savior as our nation continues to do.
The United States of America prominently displayed this greater evil just a few days after this disaster. You may recall that on September 14, 2001, a National Day of Prayer was called by our president. Like many, you were glad to hear him encourage us to pray and call on God to bless our nation in the face of this disaster. Yet do you remember what happened in our capital on this day, and what continues to be repeated to this day? Our president, along with other leaders of our nation and important dignitaries, gathered for prayer at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. Here is a partial recounting of what happened during this prayer service:
A certain “Right Reverend” (as she was introduced) welcomed those gathered by saying that they had come to a “house of prayer for all faiths.” She then listed these faiths by welcoming Buddhists, Sikhs, Muslims, Hindus, Jews, Christians – about ten or twelve different religions in all were mentioned.
The next “Right Reverend” to participate began his prayer of invocation with these words, “O God, the father of Abraham, Mohammed, and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
The Koran was read by an Islamic cleric.
Our President spoke, and at the end read this beautiful Scripture from Romans chapter 8, “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God.” He emphasized this last phrase, “Nothing shall separate us from the love of God.” The problem is that he stopped reading in mid-sentence. That last phrase reads "nothing shall separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
A much-loved famous preacher spoke and said nothing that called our nation to repentance. Rather, it was only a call to find comfort in God. In his only mention of the gospel, knowing the multi-faith nature of the service and attendees, he prefaced his remarks with "For the Christian, I’m speaking for the Christian now..." Is not the gospel for all to hear and heed?
The reason this is a greater evil is that the Triune God was openly blasphemed. The uniqueness of Jesus Christ as Lord was rejected. Though God will judge the terrorists for their wicked acts, realize they sinned with little knowledge of the truth. But this nation, blessed with the knowledge of the gospel for centuries, sinned openly, defiantly, and officially by rejecting the one and only Lord by seeking a pluralistic god, a nationally-crafted idol of our own making. Though the terrorists themselves told us that they targeted what we idolize - our financial system (the Towers), our defense (the Pentagon), and our political power (the Capitol building which was only spared because of some 9/11 heroes) - we have failed to look past their hand in this and see the hand of God smiting us for this idolatry. We just keep putting trust in materialism, military, and man.
If one wants to accuse me of being insensitive in light of this great tragedy, or simply overstating my case, then please hear me out. No, please hear the Word of God out. Recall what Jesus Himself said in Matthew 11. Speaking against cities that had seen His miracles, heard His teaching, and yet rejected Him, Jesus said this to them:
"I say to you that it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment than for you." -Matthew 11:24
You should tremble as you read this statement. Jesus implies here that the judgment that had already fallen on Sodom and Gomorrah – fire and brimstone from heaven – was not the fullness of Sodom and Gomorrah's judgment. A greater judgment yet awaits those who once populated those cities. Also, note that those cities which rejected Him as Lord in His day (He was speaking to the first century cities of Chorazin, Bethsaida, Tyre, Sidon and Capernaum – see Matthew 11:20-24.) will face more severe judgment than even Sodom has and will experience. Why?
Because God caused His Son to face a fury 10,000 times hotter than those flames we saw that awful day eleven years ago. Christ Jesus willingly suffered this because this was the price necessary to remove the sin in you that is contrary to God's design and commands for you. The Father offered as proof of this power to cleanse you from sin the resurrection of His Son from the grave three days later by the Spirit. Yet will you offend Him yet again this day by denying Christ His honor and by continuing to make a god of your own imagination?
One of the heroes of 9/11, who helped keep the plane from hitting the Capitol, was Todd Beamer. His words "Let's Roll!" became immortalized and are the title of the book telling his story. Imagine I spent my days denying his unique sacrifice by giving credit to other people who were not even on the plane for his acts. Would you not be offended, especially if you had known Mr. Beamer? Would you not shake your head at my delusion? Yet daily our land offends God by denying His Son did exactly what the Father tells us He did do in the Scriptures.
Be saved, friend, from that greater evil.