September 11, 2001 (9/11) ... a day we will never forget. Do you remember where you were that morning? I will never forget the images of burning buildings, falling bodies, debris, people covered in white dust, fire fighters walking into the hell everybody was trying to get out of.
I will never forget those feelings of exposure and fear, of horror and anger. There was a real sense that we were not as safe on 9/12. Our fear of dying was laid bear.
"There are, aren't there, only three things we can do about death: to desire it, to fear it, or to ignore it."
"Die before you die. There is no chance after."
- CS Lewis
About that time some people came up and told him about the Galileans Pilate had killed while they were at worship, mixing their blood with the blood of the sacrifices on the altar. Jesus responded, "Do you think those murdered Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans? Not at all. Unless you turn to God, you, too, will die. And those eighteen in Jerusalem the other day, the ones crushed and killed when the Tower of Siloam collapsed and fell on them, do you think they were worse citizens than all other Jerusalemites? Not at all. Unless you turn to God, you, too, will die."
9/11 had the potential to unite our country. The split between two political parties could potentially heal. 9/11 had the potential to bring us to our knees before God in repentance and confession for cutting Him out of our government, our schools, our entertainment and our homes. This one event held a lot of potential.
But what happened? How long did it last? The most recent news from Congress and causal political interactions on Facebook reveal a very divided and proud nation. A view of our government, schools, entertainment and homes would reveal a culture with little shame and not much concern for consequences.
Jesus would have talked with New Yorkers on 9/12 about their need to be right with God and others. His reference to a Tower falling on 18 people reads like the front page of the Jerusalem Register. Don't you find it interesting that Jesus knew what was happening during the week and even knew how many people died?
For some reason, Jesus felt the need to teach them the lesson that they apparently missed from the tower that killed 18 people. They got the sensational news story. They got the grim details. It was an event but not a large lifestyle changer. They missed the message.
Jesus used the falling tower (s) to teach the people:
1. It can happen to you ... anytime ... anywhere ... be ready!
2. Those that died were not picked special by God for judgment ... they were not any worse than you or me.
3. Unless you repent you will likewise die. The ultimate outcome is the same.
There is an expectation on the part of Jesus that major life events will cause us to reflect and repent. When a 9/11 happens in our lives it is to cause us to stop ... reflect on life ... reflect on our mortality ... reflect on our condition before a patient God ... and repent.
Repent is a Greek word that means to "change the mind". It means to change direction. It pictures a person doing a 180 and going in the opposite direction. It is as if Jesus is saying the 9/11 events in our lives should force us to change and go in an opposite direction. It should move us toward God and keep us there.
Die is a Greek word that carries the idea not of extinction but ruin, loss ... not of being, but of well-being. It is in the future tense and points to a condition of being not well after death.
Lewis is wise in his warning: "Die before you die. There is no chance after."
As you reflect on the events of 9/11, take time to remember many things. Remember those that died on that day ... especially the rescue personal. Remember the pain and the feelings. But do not forget to remember that your day is coming and God is waiting for you to make good with Him.
Remember: die before you die. That is where repentance comes in. You need to die to yourself and come alive to God before you die on earth. You should reflect and repent. 9/11 invites you to this place.
Allow God to have His way in our government, our schools, our entertainment and our homes. It starts with you and me, as we remember 9/11.
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