Something Greater than 9/11

photo credit: cliff1066™ via photopin cc
photo credit: cliff1066™ via photopin cc

It happens every year when the anniversary of 9/11 rolls around. I find myself wishing that those violent and horrific terrorist attacks had never happened—not only for the lives lost but because of the negative changes that have come to our world as a result of that fateful day.

It’s not that the world was necessarily a nice place before September 11, 2001, but it has definitely been even less pleasant since. Overall, from my perspective, people are less friendly, more calloused, and more fearful. I know it makes me sound old, but there are definitely times when I wish that we could return to the days of yesteryear.

photo credit: diegofornero (destino2003) via photopin cc
photo credit: diegofornero (destino2003) via photopin cc

Still, I have come to the conclusion that nothing good ever comes from fretting over the negative changes in our world. Nothing. Those who fail to adapt to change will soon find themselves mired in misery. A friend recently told me about a study that found the one common theme between people who lived to a ripe old age was their ability to adapt to change. I haven’t taken the time to verify the study, but it makes sense. Trying to hold on to what once was has a tendency to sap the vitality from even the most vibrant of people.

Isn’t it ironic that the one group of people—Christians—who should be most adept at adjusting to change is usually the first to resist anything of the sort. In part, this is because we’ve seen such a moral decline in our culture over the past 50 years. Still, something deeper is at work. We often resist change due to our shortsightedness; we don’t realize that, in most cases, change equals opportunity.

Consider, for example, the sense of anxiety and security that so many people feel in our day. Can there be a better opportunity to point them toward our Rock, the One who provides peace and security in even the worst circumstances? What about the fact that so many people are unchurched? At least these folks aren’t beset by the religiosity that has plagued the church for so long.

photo credit: faungg's photo via photopin cc
photo credit: faungg’s photo via photopin cc

Greater still, overshadowing every negative change in our world is the reality that the kingdom of God is advancing on this earth, that the time of Christ is drawing near, that each passing day brings us closer to the full revelation of our eternal hope.

There’s something exciting happening that is easily missed by the casual observer. The kingdoms of man are crumbling while the kingdom of God draws near. The kingdom of God! It’s that one and only government that can produce a truly peace-filled society. This is not a time to shrink back in fear, or to fret over things that have been lost. This is a time to lift up our heads and open our eyes to the ripening harvest around us.

If I could rewind the clock and somehow stop the events of 9/11 from happening, I most certainly would. But I can’t. Thus, I am working to accepting the realities of this world while pursuing the greater reality of God’s kingdom. For the person who loves God and seeks good, change equals opportunity. Let’s not allow it to slip through our fingers!

Economic Uncertainty–What an Opportunity!

Photo by endiaferon - Creative Commons 2.0 License

Did you hear about the rioting currently taking place in parts of Europe? Governments are trying to cut back on their massive debts by imposing austerity measures such as cutting salaries and workers benefits. This all takes place while those in power continue to grow in wealth. Such economic disparity creates a breeding ground of extreme discontent from which all sorts of violence (including terrorism) draw their strength.

Here in the U.S. recent census results show that the income gap between rich and poor has now increased to its widest margin on record, double what it was just 40 years ago. Considering the continued growth of our national debt, it’s simply a matter of time until we face even more extreme circumstances than we see today.

I certainly don’t see myself as a fatalist resigned to accept a dark foreboding future for the western world, but I am convinced that we need to confront the realities of our day through the eye of faith. I speak not of an ignorant, self-imposed blindness, but of a confidence in God that looks through and beyond very real circumstances. Natural circumstances are not unimportant, but an eternal perspective carries far greater weight.

Ours is a living hope found only through our relationship with Christ. If our hope is focused elsewhere, we will be severely disappointed—especially in our current economic times.

Hope springs eternal through identification with Christ. Hopelessness will ever bear the dark fruits of discouragement, depression, cynicism, hardness and eventually violence. It’s in this vein that I am so touched by the heroes of the faith who have gone before us. Read what Hebrews 11:8-10 has to say about Abraham:

“By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place he would later receive as an inheritance, and he went out without understanding where he was going. By faith he lived as a foreigner in the promised land as though it were a foreign country, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, who were fellow heirs of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with firm foundations, whose architect and builder is God.” (NET)

Abraham was so characterized by an eternal hope that he was unwilling to see even the Promised Land as home! Abraham’s real promise was God Himself. As a result all of heaven holds Abraham in the highest regard.

Photo by cohdra - MorgueFile

Abraham looked beyond his natural circumstances and fixed his gaze upon an eternal land of opportunity. The political and economic rumblings of our day compel us to do the same. How privileged we are to live in an era that will not allow us to firmly place our trust on the ever shifting sands of human design!

We are immersed in a course of world events that supersede our individual wants and desires. Life as we’ve known it is coming to an end, while both the kingdoms of light and darkness steadily rise. Ongoing economic uncertainty will continue to challenge us to evaluate the focus of our trust. What an amazing opportunity to pursue Christ and to lay hold of the eternal, living hope found only in Him!

We Can’t Go Back!

On September 10, 2001 the world didn’t necessarily seem like such a great place, but in retrospect I guess it wasn’t really all that bad. On that day the twin towers still stood as symbols of American strength and supremacy. How things have changed since that time!

http://www.flickr.com/photos/video4net/ / CC BY 2.0

How I wish that 9/11 had never happened! I know other factors are involved, but it seems as though the crisis of that terrible day triggered a chain reaction of so many painful and distasteful events.

Humans have this natural tendency to glamorize the past. “Those were the days!” And while the past may have certainly been better in many ways, the glory of Christ’s kingdom will be found only in the future. To continue to reach back, desperately trying to hold onto or recover what once was, will only serve to blind us to what can be.

There is something about human nature that needs to be in control. We want things the way we want them. This conflicts deeply with allowing God to have His way in our lives—unless of course we assume that God thinks exactly the way we do.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/dragnfly78/ / CC BY 2.0

I mean, wouldn’t God want things to return to a pre-9/11 state? Or maybe He’d want to go back further to the 1950’s? How about the 1800’s? Perhaps even the days when Christ walked this earth?

It all sounds rather foolish when you take the time to think it through. Without question, the best option is to keep moving forward, looking toward a Day that far surpasses anything the past has ever known.

The longer I walk this earth the more I come to realize how little it has to offer. In contrast, the kingdom of God is so much more meaningful than I once thought. The Daniel passage from my last post carries such a sense of anticipation!

 “In the days of those kings the God of heaven will raise up an everlasting kingdom that will not be destroyed—a kingdom that will not be left to another people. It will break in pieces and bring about the demise of even the greatest of human empires. Not a trace of them will remain. But God’s kingdom will become a large mountain that fills the entire earth, standing supreme forever and ever.”

But aren’t global issues becoming increasingly ugly and more complex? Absolutely! It is the unavoidable nature of our times. But God’s grace always rises to meet the need, no matter how dire. According to kingdom dynamics, the greater the challenge, the greater the opportunity.

Lesser man-made kingdoms are being supplanted and replaced by the greater. If our eyes are riveted on what once was, we’ll miss the incredible good that God has planned for today.

We can’t go back! Much better to let go of what was and press on to an everlasting hope, than to be stuck in the past, complaining about how far our nation has strayed from its roots.