Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Six Years

It was such a beautiful day. The sky was blue. The temperature was perfect. It was one of those days that I was glad to be working outside for the day.

On that Tuesday, I was helping out with my family business at a large outdoor retail market. There were shoppers everywhere, just arriving for a day of fun. It was a bit like being removed from reality, transported to this little island where the outside world couldn’t penetrate.

Sometime before 9:30, word began to circulate among the vendors at the market. A plane had hit the World Trade Center. Then came word that both towers had been hit. One fell. Then the other. A third plane had reportedly hit the Pentagon and authorities were tracking a fourth plane which had turned back toward the east coast.

Those of us with radios turned them up to near full volume. We crowded around the small clock radios, stopping to exchange information with other vendors who were listening to the coverage on another station. We had no television, so all we knew was what the voices on the radio described to us.

But what really struck me about that day was the reaction of the shoppers. They came from at least a dozen states to this shopper’s paradise, and by and large, no one wanted any intrusion from the real world. Occasionally someone would ask what it was everybody was listening to and talking about. When told, they were usually nonchalant about the whole mess. Almost nobody knew where the World Trade Center actually was. One woman mentioned that her son was stationed at the Pentagon, followed by, “Oh, well. That’s interesting.” Most were too busy being wrapped up in their own little world that they couldn’t be bothered with anything that didn’t fit their day’s agenda.

It was so odd living in Sept. 11, 2001 while talking to people who were still living in Sept. 10. People were hesitant to believe what I knew to be true. Or worse yet, they didn’t want to be bothered with the truth.

Of course, that's pretty much an everyday occurrence when it comes to thoughts about God. Any possible thought that might upset the fragile apple cart of a worldview gets thrown to the side of the road. They think, "I don't care if you say you can prove it, you can't prove it to me!" Many people won't consider the claims of Christ because that would mean the need to change not only their lifestyle, but also their entire belief system. So Christ is rejected for disturbing the comfortable.

It's easy to pick on those who won't hear the saving message of Jesus Christ, but I think there are just as many, if not more people who consider themselves to be Christian, but don't want to be bothered with the truth. Many people grow up in a church setting under the teaching of well-meaning but woefully incorrect pastors. Many adopt what they like from Christianity and sprinkle in a little Eastern religion or a little humanism and a lot of pragmatism. Too many in the church today don't want to hear the truth because it makes them uncomfortable.

I am reminded of people I have met who will go to war about what type of music "God likes" but won't consider attending a Bible study. Just because we keep hymnals and Bibles in the same rack on the back of the pews doesn't mean they hold the same theological value.

Mostly though, I think we all tend to get so wrapped up in our own little world, with our own little issues and our own little crises, that we remove ourselves from reality. We neglect the poor and needy in our midst. We give our money so we don't have to volunteer our time. Anything so that the real world doesn't crash in on our private island.

The Church must wake up to the reality of what we are living in. We must be as committed to the One who called Himself "the Truth" as well as the Way and the Life. We have to pull back from our own selfishness so that we can see our neighbors as Jesus sees them.