With the anniversary of 9/11 just days ahead, I'm curious just how those terrorist attacks, now some 4 years hence, have changed the family of God. The answers to a few short questions might provide a pulse-check. Do you view the world differently, Christian? In the wake of September 11, 2001...are you closer to God...more dependent on His daily provision? Do you still thank Him continually for your family, your church, your job--your next breath? Or, in the words of country singer Darryl Worley--"have you forgotten?"
I dare say most of us have--this reporter included. And the evidence appears all around us. Is attendance at your church today at the level you remember back on September 16 of that year? Have we provided the answers those troubled seekers sought that Sunday...or have they returned their trust to their TVs and DVDs? Can you, as a believer, honestly say that you are just as concerned about eternity as you were in the days just after Bin Laden's treachery? Or is 3 dollars for a gallon of gas just about as far into the future as you care to look right now?
Truth is...without the outrageous images of dead Americans, falling from burning buildings, fresh in our short-term memories...we’ve pretty much gotten back to business as usual in America, and—sadly—in the church. We're back to holding our pastors, elders, and other stressed-out leaders to standards, by which, we aren't willing to judge ourselves. We're back to complaining about the music mix in our church services and the temperature in the sanctuary, instead of joining hands and falling to our knees together in simple gratitude for the privilege of living another day. 4 years after 9/11, we've largely returned to viewing evangelism as an exercise in "I got mine, now you go get yours." We still define good doctrine as something we know, instead of something that we live. And--somehow--we still believe that, just because we’ve not been hit again, life is somehow "back to normal."
But "normal" is a lie--an illusion--a never-attainable state of being. It's a dangerous and misleading fallacy to believe that, because we're Christians, God means for us to live "the good life" here on Earth. Truth is: if your existence is relatively painless, I'd wager that you’re not living the Christian life. 'Cause life in Christ is orderly, but it ain't easy. When you serve God, your enemy will retaliate. You're gonna hurt, you're gonna fight, and you're gonna cry--a lot. That's why we need each other in the church. Today--just as 4 years ago, and for as long as He tarries--the only peace we can claim on this coil is this: greater is He that is in you, than he that's in the world. And the effect of that knowledge alone on our lives should make us, as believers, different enough to draw lost sinners to Christ. Even if He chooses to never allow another 9-1-1.