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Kobe Bryant Wrote after 9/11, 'We Never Know When Our Time Here Will Be Over': The Best Way to Help Our Culture Value Every Person


Three months after 9/11, Kobe Bryant wrote a column for Newsweek reflecting on what he had learned from the tragedy.

He stated: “I’ve learned also that you can’t take things for granted. You know how we always say ‘See you later’? One thing I’ve realized from September 11 is that you can’t ever say that for sure. Things change in the blink of an eye. People go to work and don’t come back. One minute they’re living and the next minute they’re not. And, it doesn’t matter who you are, there is nothing you can do about it.” 

He concluded: “We never know when our time here will be over, so we all need to make the most of every minute we have.” 

The other victims of the helicopter crash 

Just as Kobe Bryant sought meaning in the aftermath of 9/11, I’ve been searching for meaning in his shocking death. The unpredictability of life he highlighted in his Newsweek article is one obvious fact. Another is his observation that, with regard to mortality, “it doesn’t matter who you are.” 

A third factor illustrated by his death is the way our culture focuses on celebrity. For example, seven other people died in the helicopter crash along with Bryant and his daughter Gianna, but their stories have not been the focus of media attention. 

One of them was John Altobelli, a baseball coach who helped hundreds of players earn scholarships to Division I programs over the years. He and his wife Keri were on board the helicopter with their daughter Alyssa, who played on the same basketball team as Gianna Bryant. 

Another victim was Christina Mauser, the top assistant on the girls’ basketball team. Sarah Chester and her daughter Payton, a teammate of Gianna Bryant’s, also died in the crash, as did the helicopter pilot, Ara Zobayan.

More Americans watched a soap opera than watched the impeachment trial

Those we don’t know are just as important to their family and friends as those we do. 

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) has been front and center in the impeachment process. Few know the name of his wife, Joyce Miller, or the fact that she has undergone surgery for pancreatic cancer. This news came to light only when Nadler announced Sunday that he would miss a day of the impeachment trial to be with her “to meet with doctors, determine a path forward, and begin her treatment.” 

Unless you live in Turkey, you may not be following closely the search for survivors after an earthquake struck Friday night, collapsing buildings and killing at least forty-one people. Unless you live in Newburgh County, New York (sixty miles north of New York City), you may not know that a home invasion Sunday morning took the lives of three people, one of whom was a ten-year-old boy. 

If you’re like most of us, your concern about the escalating China coronavirus crisis is related to the degree you perceive it to be a personal threat. It also may not surprise you to learn that, according to Nielsen, twice as many people watched The Young and The Restless as watched the impeachment trial last week. Many Americans apparently don’t see the relevance of the trial to their personal lives. 

“Moving a few inches transforms property into a person”

Celebrities obviously make the news because they are celebrities. But a central tenet of the Christian faith is that every person matters just as much as every other person, whether the world knows their story or not. 

Paul’s assertion that “there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” was radical for his culture (Galatians 3:28). The biblical claim that “whoever” believes in Christ receives eternal life (John 3:16) broke down the racial and cultural barriers of Jesus’ day and ours. 

The fact that the intrinsic value of every person seems so commonplace to you illustrates the impact of Christianity on your worldview. If you were living in Communist China or North Korea, where individuals are seen as subordinate to the state, it might not be as obvious. 

Nor should we assume that the sanctity of every human life is assumed by everyone in our culture. It has been noted that, with respect to our abortion laws and the status of the unborn, “moving a few inches transforms property into a person.” Many abortion advocates have dropped the third part of “safe, legal, and rare,” advocating for the ending of unborn life more adamantly than ever before

The systemic prevalence of racism and rising popularity of euthanasia show that for many Americans, the equal status and sanctity of every person is more fiction than fact.

“Today is what the Lord has prepared you for.”

The best way to help our culture value every person from conception to natural death is to value every person we know. Today. 

None of us knew on Sunday morning that Kobe Bryant would not be alive on Monday morning. None of us knew on September 10, 2001 that September 11, 2001 would change our world. 

Mordecai’s admonition to Esther is God’s word to us: “Who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14). It is by God’s providence that we are alive not just where we are but when we are. And that we will meet the mortal/immortal people we encounter this day. 

Pastor and author Mark Dever has noted: “Today is what the Lord has prepared you for.” 

For whom has he prepared you this day? 

NOTE: Today’s the last day to request a copy of my latest book, Biblical Insight to Tough Questions, Vol. 4. 

Covering topics like doubt, suffering, and changing the culture, this volume offers biblical answers to many of today’s most challenging questions, such as: When life gets hard, where can I turn? What makes Christianity unique? How can I love God and those with whom I disagree? Despite how much the world has changed, you’ll learn just how unchanging God’s word is. Please request your copy of Biblical Insight to Tough Questions, Vol. 4 today.

Publication date: January 28, 2020

Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Kevork Djansezia/Staff

Jim Denison, PhD, is a cultural theologian and the founder and CEO of Denison Ministries. Denison Ministries includes DenisonForum.org, First15.org, ChristianParenting.org, and FoundationsWithJanet.org. Jim speaks biblically into significant cultural issues at Denison Forum. He is the chief author of The Daily Article and has written more than 30 books, including The Coming Tsunamithe Biblical Insight to Tough Questions series, and The Fifth Great Awakening.

The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect those of CrosswalkHeadlines.

For more from the Denison Forum, please visit www.denisonforum.org.

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