Quite different from the other respondents in the 9/11 article in the September issue of Christianity Today, Anne Graham Lotz, daughter of Billy Graham and sister to Franklin Graham, declared, “All I know with certainty was that God was trying to get the attention of his people including me… Like Isaiah, I also saw a humiliating vision of my own sin” with “immediate impact…in my relationship with God, an increased fervency in prayer, clearer insight into God’s Word, and a sharpened focus in ministry.” What a great model of starting with personal self-examination and going before the Lord, much as Daniel does in Daniel 9.
But there’s more as Lotz goes where a few others dared to go only temporarily, but quickly retreating when the deistic protest comes.“the alarm did not fade away…I have heard it reverberating throughout the past ten years: from Hurricane Katrina to the record-breaking floods, forest fires, tornadoes, droughts, and snow storms; to the collapse of our major financial institutions; to the economic recession; to the inability to win the war in Afghanistan.The alarm keeps resounding because so many people have not heeded, or even heard the warning.”What is the warning? “Judgment is at the door.Jesus is coming! It’s time to wake up and get right with God! Are you listening?”
On what basis does Lotz make such statements while other supposed evangelical voices declare that God had nothing to do with 9/11 or other tragedies, and that it has nothing to do with America’s sins?
My conclusion is that most professing Christians are practicing deists.We say we believe God is in control, but the default position is that life happens, sin happens and there are no significant lessons to be learned from 9/11 or Hurricane Katrina or the many floods, fires, wars, economic crises, etc.
Jesus declares quite the opposite in Luke 13:1-5, providing Lotz solid ground for her conclusions.Two scenarios were brought to Jesus:First, a massacre was committed by Pilate (the governor who later ordered Jesus’ crucifixion) in which people offering their sacrifices were killed on the temple grounds.Secondly, a tower in Siloam fell, resulting in eighteen deaths.
In both cases, Jesus raised the question, the assumption of many, “Were these worse sinners?Were they more guilty than others?”The answer in regard to both examples is “I tell you, no!”
The all too quickly reached conclusion is that therefore God had nothing to do with the two situations and there is nothing to learn from them other than get better leaders and strengthen construction standards.These things just happen in a sinful and fallen world.But that is to leave the text too soon.Jesus had more to say, “But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”
Don’t conclude when you see someone else suffer that it was their personal sin that brought on the situation.Jesus clearly refutes that as the universal explanation or even the most likely explanation. There are logical consequences to sinful choices, some suffered by the sinner, some by nearby victims, but the best of people died in the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and in the hijacked airliners, people we now rightly think of as heroes, the best of humanity.
But he doesn’t say it has nothing to do with anyone’s sin beyond the evil perpetraters, individually or corporately in society. Just as individuals reap what they sow, so entire societies and nations reap what they sow, resulting in judgments that affect both the righteous and the wicked, believer and unbeliever. And what Jesus makes clear is that every disaster is a warning, a gracious warning by a loving God, “unless you repent, you too will perish.”
What should we then do? Repent! Humble yourself before Almighty God. Search your own heart. If you have not received Jesus, who died as the substitute sacrifice for your sins, receive Him now! As a believer, walk humbly and obediently before God, giving your life for His Glory! Pray for revival in your own heart, in the church of Jesus Christ, and then by God’s mercy, in our nation.