It’s been five years since we were stunned by the terrorist attack on our own soil. I wanted to share a few thoughts on what has changed, and especially what has remained the same. This will be more of a commentary on current events rather than a theological post, but I think that it is important that we seek to understand the times in which we live from a biblical perspective.
- We are still not “safe”
- There are still people who want to kill us
To be sure, we have made some progress in protecting ourselves against future terrorist attacks. There have been no new attacks on our soil these past five years. Some potential attacks have been thwarted before they could be carried out. For this we should be thankful.
But are we “safe”? No, we are not. We are repeatedly reminded by news stories on this topic just how vulnerable we really are. In a society that obsesses about safety, this is not a comfortable thought. But the fact of the matter is that it is impossible to be certain that we can thwart all attempted terrorist attacks. There are just too many ways it could be done, and to make a serious effort to stop them all would require draconian measures that we would rightly reject. We were not “safe” before the 9/11 attacks. The difference now is that we are aware of that fact.
Absolute safety in this world does not exist apart from placing our lives in the hand of God. That is not to say that He guarantees protection of our lives and our possessions, but rather that we should trust Him with our souls, even if it turns out that He allows events to transpire that usher us into His presence rather sooner than we had expected. As Paul said, “To live is Christ and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21). I’m all for safety, and we should take prudent measures to protect ourselves. But we need to realize that we live in a fallen world, and we cannot guarantee that nothing bad will happen to us.
We have not succeeded in capturing Osama Bin Laden, despite our considerable effort. We have captured some of his key assistants, and hopefully significantly hindered their efforts. But there seems to be no shortage of people who are dedicated to bringing down “The Great Satan” as they call us. Americans have a difficult time understanding this. Many naively believe that if we just “make nice” and stop bothering them that they will go away and leave us alone. Unfortunately it is not that simple. The terrorists are motivated by strongly held religious and political beliefs, and it is unlikely that they would be placated by anything short of turning the U.S. into an Islamic state and instituting strict Shira law.
Many involved in the public debate on these issues come from the perspective of a belief in the basic goodness of human beings. That’s why they simply cannot fathom the level of hatred and blood lust in the hearts of certain people. But if we understand the fallen condition of man we should not be surprised about the existence of hatred and savagery in the world. For the foreseeable future, there will be violent men in the world who are convinced that Allah has chosen them to kill the infidels (especially Americans). This is something relatively new to us as Americans, and we are still struggling to comprehend it. But it is the world in which we live, and we ignore it at our peril.
[I realize that not all Muslims are violent and anti-American, but obviously there are those who are, and who use their religion as a reason to justify their violent actions.]
I had originally intended to add a few more points, but this post is already long enough. Perhaps I will do a “part 2” later on (no promises!). Meanwhile, let me know what you think.