It’s difficult to believe it’s been 20 years since 9/11.
I was in my middle adult years then, so the memories, the feelings, and fears are still sharp, and the outrage, or let’s call it righteous anger, is right there too.
I wonder what Gen Z (birthdate 1997-2012) experiences thinking about 9/11. The oldest of them are now into young adulthood. They would have been just four years old back then. For Gen Z, 9/11 is ancient history.
Whatever our age, 9/11 was an American turning point.
9/11 was an unprovoked attack, a tragedy, an immoral act. For some, 9/11 was a clash of civilizations. For others, it was a transition to a time of terrorism and turmoil. It was a day that changed the world.
The perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks were militant Islamist terrorists, part of a radicalized group known as al-Qaeda. You know the story of how, eventually, the U.S. killed the group’s leader, Osama bin Laden. That provided a modicum of justice for the families who lost loved ones and Americans who felt violated. But….
Extremism still exists. Sin, evil, and destruction still threaten human civilization.
For me, 9/11 is an occasion for reflection:
- God created humanity good, but sin and the Fall came upon us all through Adam. Only through Christ’s sacrifice and resurrection can we be reconciled with God and others.
- Al-Qaeda is an Islamist terrorist group with a worldview I reject as unbiblical and cruel. And while other Muslims share some beliefs with Al-Qaeda, I do not blame all Muslims for the criminal behavior of a few.
- So, while it’s a hard truth, truth it is, all human beings are made in the image of God, loved by God, and extended the opportunity for salvation by God. And we are to love them all:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,” (Matt. 5:43-44).
Loving our enemies, including al-Qaeda, ISIS, Taliban, is, I’m thinking, as difficult for my generation as the idea of loving Nazis was for the Greatest Generation.
But what God commands me to love is not an evil belief system, not an objectionable political ideology or execrable worldview, but a human being, just a man, like me.
Scripture presents us with principles guiding governmental use of coercive force to restrain evildoers, accountability and justice yet leaving vengeance to God, how to encourage human flourishing and peace. Bad actors won’t “get away with it.”
So I know I am expected to love my enemies, to care for their souls, even as I rest in the knowledge that the Sovereign God brings all things to account.
It is one of the things I appreciate about SAT-7. Each day, this ministry broadcasts Christian truth to tens of millions of Middle Easterners, most of whom adhere to a different religion. I hope how I think aloud about 9/11 is a testimony to them and an example of the grace of the God we serve.
Dr. Rex Rogers
President, SAT-7 USA
Top photo: 9/11 “Tribute in Light” memorial lit in September 2015.