“Love and Justice 20 Years After 9/11”

“Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other. By myself I have sworn; from my mouth has gone out in righteousness a word that shall not return: ‘To me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear allegiance.’”

Isaiah 45:22-23

It’s been 20 years since the series of four coordinated attacks against our country by the militant Islamist terrorist group al-Queda. Like you, I remember what I was doing that Tuesday morning in September when the news began to break. As a freshman in High School, I watched the TV screens as smoke billowed out of the north tower of the World Trade Center. Then, to everyone’s horror, the south tower was struck and both collapsed.

The principal decided to let the kids leave school early. My brother Pete, who was a senior that year, drove us both home where we continued to watch the news with our family. I was just old enough to know the scale of death I had witnessed but not old enough to understand why it had happened at all. No one knew, save God, the lasting impact these events would have on our world.

Just like that, our country was at war, we were thrown into a recession, and many lived in fear of more attacks to come. The US’s recent withdrawal from Afghanistan and the Taliban’s swift return to power—after deposing them and spending two decades fighting the war on terror on their soil—was a poignant reminder of the instability of the human governments of the world.

As Christians, 9/11 is a reminder that the devil is still hard at work sowing religious confusion, discord, malice, oppression, and violence in the world “because he knows his time is short” (Rev. 12:12). Disciples of Jesus know that behind every evil act “the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” collude with the twisted hearts of men (Eph. 6:12). But we believe that, in the end light will overtake the darkness, death will be swallowed up by life, and God's glory will cover the earth as the waters cover the sea. We are assured of this ultimate victory not because of some vague wish but because of a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus.

While a political and military response may be necessary to restrain evil acts like terrorism (Rom. 13:3-4), Christians know that mere human responses cannot open the eyes of the blind or heal the deep wounds which separate humans from each other and from God. Our Lord came to earth to heal those spiritual wounds, to end the hostility, and to “destroy the works of the devil” (1 Jn. 3:8).

We know that nations, kings, and governments will come and go, but we find confidence in the fact that “the Most High rules the kingdoms of men and gives it to whom he will” (Dan. 4:25). We rejoice in being part of a kingdom which cannot be shaken (Heb. 12:28). We rest under the just, peaceful, and eternal government of Jesus (Isa. 9:6-7). Our instruments of war have been beaten into tools for cultivation. We have ascended the mountain of the Lord and given our complete allegiance to King (Isa. 2:1-5). And we publish the good news that our God reigns (Isa. 52:7) in Jesus.

He defeated sin in his death on the cross. He defeated death in his resurrection from the grave. And he will return to set the world right. In Christ, God’s love for sinners and justice against sin came together to offer hope and victory to everyone.

We are those who recognize and share in that victory because we have bowed the knee and confessed that Jesus Christ is Lord (Phil. 2:10-11). God's offer of grace goes out into the world through us now. We look back at 9/11 and see the reason for Christ's first coming, but we also confidently look forward to Christ's second coming when his victory over evil will be complete.