Saturday, 11 September 2010

What have we learnt?

Nine years ago was September 11th, 2001. That seems to be one of those days that everybody remembers where they were. My wife was in Kenya. I was in Wales. For those near a TV set, again and again we watched those horrifying images of huge planes, full of people and fuel, being used as guided suicide missiles with the aim of doing nothing except killing as many people as possible - people who were going about their "everyday" businesses.

I think only the exceptionally-dull-to-the-point-of-being-dead-whilst-they-are-alive failed to feel the impact of some great truths on that day.

The question, though, is whether we remember them. Now that the "light" which was shone onto reality at that moment has grown dim, do we still remember the things we saw at the time? Or now that it's darker, have people again persuaded themselves that those things are possibly not really there?

I mean things like...
  • The reality of evil. Evil, as an objective and horrifying entity which is powerfully at work in the world. In contrast to the belief that we are just super-evolved plankton and nothing we do has any cosmic significance at all. When those planes hit those towers, people knew it was folly to deny that evil is real. Do they still know it?

  • The uncertainty of life and the nearness of death. Thousands of people just got out of bed for an ordinary day at work - and the next morning were the headline in every paper across the globe. But as concerns this world, they were gone from it, into the next, never to return. Who knows what a day may bring? And yet how many now in the West or anywhere have learnt the lesson, and now live each day as if it were their possibly last? How many realised that they needed to seek and find God urgently, in case they were not granted another full day?

  • Not all people are the same. On that day there were villains and heroes. Some were so full of hate that they would gladly kill themselves just to inflict death on others too. Others gave up their own lives to save others.

  • The reality of false religion. You don't have to do a course in comparative religion to realise that any creed that encourages slamming hundreds of your fellow human beings into buildings in order to kill as many as possible cannot by any stretch be something that pleases God. False religion exists; there are not "many ways to God", we are not all "finding our own path". Some of us can be drastically deluded. Just because you don't hijack planes doesn't mean you're not equally as deluded.
Did the world take the warning? Yes, airport security is still not what it was, and the security services are no doubt active in all kinds of ways. But what are people doing with their lives today that is different from what they did on September 10th, 2001? Or is it just the same? Has it all faded, and we've persuaded ourselves through the constant round of entertainment and lack of seriousness about the things of God, that it was all some kind of unreal dream?

The Bible tells us that God is not mocked. His warnings, though dreadful, are ultimately very kind. They are intrusions of reality, to teach us who remain to go a different way. We're still alive today, 9 years on. God has given us opportunity to watch, and learn - to learn to keep short accounts with him through Christ, to live every day as if we may soon be summoned into eternity never to return, to realise that there is only one way and we must stick to it and life for it will all our might and strength. But for those who will not listen or learn and who think - even after such warnings - that the best thing to do is just have a good time in life as much as we can, only a fearful future discovery remains.

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