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9/11 -- Where's Our Passion?

Mal Fletcher
Posted 12 September 2006
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It was just a few and hours after the horror of September 11, 2001.

Standing amid the devastation on the dust covered streets of New York, a leading TV journalist stooped to pick up a piece of paper, one of the many business documents fluttering in the murky air.

"Yesterday," she said, "this piece of paper was probably the most important thing in the world to somebody. Today it is totally meaningless."

I’m sure today that all of our hearts go out to the families of those who died on that tragic day. For them, this is not an international event, but a time of intensely personal loss and mourning.

Even for those of us who were not touched directly by the horror of is event, there is something to be learned from it.

For me, these events were a stark reminder of the power of passion.

The whole thing began with an unleashing of passion for evil -- a commitment to a cause that led young men to commit mass murder and suicide. That kind of passion is incomprehensible to most of us.

Yet there was also a remarkable passion for good revealed on that day.

I’ll never forget watching on TV the blackened faces of emergency workers -- firemen, police officers and others -- who boldly walked into the rising cloud of smoke, while others were running from it.

Their passion was of the totally admirable kind; a passion for service, for duty, for giving.

Today, we are proud of their legacy.

It seems that God has placed before us an awesome choice. We’re all passionate about something.

The question is: will our passion be directed at things that count, things that live on when we die?

For a great many people the world over,

Up until now, the post-modern age of political correctness has produced a generation that has made being inoffensive its greatest virtue.

Many of us have been going around trying so hard not to step on anyone else's toes, to the point of confusing political correctness with truth.

The popular thinking has gone thus: "It's OK to believe that something is true, as long as you don't insist that it is the truth of the matter."

Yet, at least for a while after 9/11, people seemed less willing to call everything "negotiable". Some things, it seems, clearly are wrong and evil.

Some things are true and worth being passionate about.

For Christians, there should be at least one major lesson learned from September 11. We can no longer afford to present a "business-as-usual", "more-of-the-same" face to the world.

We must meet people with a zeal for our God that is greater than their passion for their gods -- whatever they may be.

For the church, if for no other group, September 11 surely represented the death of blandness and a call to passion!

Until now, secular prophets have preached "blessed are the comfortable", while some churches have responded with "comfortable are the blessed". The church needs a revival of passionate living and leadership.

Check the scriptures: the God who called us is a passionate God. He is anything but the clinical, emotionless -- yes, even "nice" -- figure the church has sometimes represented him to be. He is a zealous God.

When the Israelites suffered under Pharaoh, they could not have understood why God was allowing the king's heart to be continually hardened. Each hardening brought on their heads even greater misery.

Every plague God sent on Egypt was also a direct challenge to a particular Egyptian deity.

Why frogs and locusts? Because both had a part in the religion of Egypt.

God was not only displaying his authority over Pharaoh, but over every false god the Egyptians had conceived.

They could not have seen it at the time, but later, in all the challenging days of the exodus and conquest, the Israelites could look back and be assured of the greatness of their God. Theirs was a God who demonstrated his right to receive worship -- and he did it in such a "watch this" kind of way!

His passion for his people and his name were so great that even the greatest kings on earth -- and the greatest gods of men -- could not withstand him.

Jesus was certainly not bland or business-as-usual.

Novelist Dorothy Sayers has said: "The people who hanged Christ never... accused Him of being a bore -- on the contrary; they thought Him too dynamic to be safe. It has been left for later generations to muffle up that shattering personality and surround Him with an atmosphere of tedium...'

'He was emphatically not a dull man in His human lifetime, and if He was God, there can be nothing dull about God either."

How is passion revived? It starts with me recognising a deep longing in my heart, a yearning that can never be filled with earthly happiness alone. Godly passion is stirred when I call to mind every day that this world is not my home.

As much as I enjoy God's rich bounty in a thousand ways every day, I can't afford to get my roots down too deep.

According to Jesus, it's when I feel most settled in and happy with this world that I'm most in danger of losing sight of real life.

That's when I lose my passion and settle for lukewarm spirituality.

Pascal wrote that we will never be happy "if we aspire to no other happiness than what can be enjoyed in this life."

God's passion energises our days when we hold only lightly to material things, to position, to status, to control. When we live for something that lives on when we die -- for service, for friends, for faith.

What’s your view?

Does remembering 9/11 challenge the way you live in any way?



Keywords: 9/11 | September 11 | September 11 2001 | New York | passion | Jesus Christ | Dorothy Sayers | Mal Fletcher | social comment | Next Wave International

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Your Feedback
As a Care Home Manager for older people...[I see that] the culture of the family unit has changed, but I'm heartened by those that come to work as carers & give quality care & love to the residents.
Jude Goode, United Kingdom

Mal you are a dear friend to the church in Australia. So blessed by your compassionate voice.
Jamie, Australia

Thanks Mal for helping us see the US gun laws issue from an ethical perspective. Our right to possess guns (or any other right, for that matter) is surely insignificant when compared to our responsibility to preserve life.
Ann, Australia

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