September 11 and Facing the Spirit of Fear

It was the evening of November 30, 1977…

For those of us old enough to remember (and before the days of VCR’s, DVR’s, and YouTube), it was the night that Americans gathered around our television sets and watched with mixed emotions the final Christmas special featuring the great Bing Crosby. Bing Crosby’s Merrie Olde Christmas, originally taped toward the end of summer that year in London, England, featured Bing along with his family and a few guests. Just over a month after the taping, on October 14, Bing died suddenly from a massive heart attack following a round of golf with friends.

One of the highlights of the program was a duet by Bing and a young David Bowie. It was a beautiful rendition of the song Little Drummer Boy, arranged together as a medley with a song called Peace on Earth. As Bing’s low baritone voice sang out the familiar “ba-rum-bum-bum-bum”, David Bowie sang out the higher counter-melody…

Peace on Earth,
Can it be?
Years from now
Perhaps we’ll see;
See the day of glory,
See the day
When men of good will live in peace,
Live in peace again.*

* Tune and lyrics, written by Ian Fraser, Larry Grossman, and Alan Kohan

Peace on Earth. Since that night on a Judean hillside when the hosts of Heaven filled the sky with the refrain of “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men“, men of good will throughout the centuries have long worked for peace. As Bing Crosby and David Bowie sang once again a plea for peace on Earth, no one knew the irony of what they were singing… and when. You see, the day that they taped that segment of the show was September 11, 1977.

September 11, 2001

9-11Fast forward exactly 34 years as Americans watched in horror the tragedy of that day unfold before our very eyes. A handful of Islamic terrorists brought the reality of their radical ideology to the shores of our country in an attack unlike anything since December 7, 1941 at Pearl Harbor. When all was said and done, four planes had crashed, the World Trade Center was reduced to rubble, the Pentagon was in flames, a field in Pennsylvania was strewn with fiery wreckage, and nearly 3,000 American citizens had lost their lives. They were husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, and grandparents. They were business people, students, athletes, blue-collar workers, housewives, politicians, and children. And in the days that followed, as we learned of the facts surrounding the events of that day, Americans spoke out with a cry of defiant resolve…

We will NEVER forget.

But as we spend this day in reflection on the events of September 11, 2001, I have to ask…

Have we?

Have we forgotten what it felt like that day? Have we forgotten the feelings of fear and uncertainty that gave way to anger for this violation against our nation? Have we forgotten the sorrow at the loss of our friends and loved ones, and the determination to never let it happen again on our watch?

Most importantly, have we forgotten our reliance upon God during those dark nights?

In 1 Peter 5:8, the apostle writes…

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.

When quoting that verse, we have a tendency to focus on the second part; the descriptive about our enemy. But many times, we neglect our responsibility in the verse, that being the first four words…

Be sober, be vigilant…

I find it interesting that, as a nation founded upon our reliance on God, and having spent the better part of the past 4 decades trying to distance ourselves from God, we now find ourselves fighting an enemy that is waging a war based on a religious ideology, claiming to be fighting in the name of God. The fact is, we are fighting a demonically influenced political ideology that masks itself in the shroud of religion. As we see events unfolding in the Middle East, the persecution and murder of Christians by Muslims, the infiltration of Islam in our own culture, and unresolved events such as the Benghazi attack on our diplomatic team, it is all meant to incite one thing…

Fear.

But the real fear we face is more sinister than just the fear of a group or ideology. The absence of truth and absolutes in our culture has created a vacuum, and fear has been more than willing to fill the void. We have become afraid to speak the truth for fear of being called intolerant. We are afraid of standing up for Godliness and holiness for fear of being labeled a bigot. We are afraid to speak out against social injustice for fear of being called a racist. We are afraid to stand for traditional marriage and family values for fear of being called a homophobe. We are afraid to stand against the evils of Muslim ideology for fear of being called an Islamophobe. The list goes on…

However, cowering in fear from the onslaught of the enemy — whatever socio-political-religious mask he chooses to wear — should not be the response of any follower of Jesus Christ. After all, we have this declaration…

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. ~ 2 Timothy 1:7

Being the habitation of God Almighty, we have unlimited power. As recipients of the finished work of Jesus, we have received unrelenting love. As believers in His holiness and righteousness, we have taken on the mind of Christ. In light of these things, as the Psalmist said…

The LORD is my light and my salvation– whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life– of whom shall I be afraid? ~ Psalm 27:1

So while we are called to be sober and vigilant, and to walk in faith and truth instead of fear, we can walk in the belief that our Prince of Peace has come, and gives us peace — peace that no man can take away. We can move forward from this day — September 11, 2014 — as the day that we resolve to no longer allow the enemy to keep us in bondage to fear, but will live according to the promise of Romans 8:15…

For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.”

Peace be with you and yours,
Pastor Ron

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