Evil.Jon Arnold | September 11, 2009
I don’t know why I turned on the tv in the morning 8 years ago today, September 11, 2001. I was up for an early staff breakfast, and watching the news wasn’t part of my morning routine. But I distinctly remember feeling the need to turn it on. It took me a few minutes to understand what I was seeing. A few minutes later I watched a second plane hit, then a tower collapse live. And then I knew what it was:
There are some who disagree. They say this was justice – payback for years of American Imperialism and greed – some even say God’s judgement against us. If you want to decide what’s God’s judgement and what’s not (say for instance you’re John Piper and you like to interpret the weather), more power to you. I don’t claim that prophetic authority, and it is God’s to judge the merits of those who do. For me, one thing was abundantly clear: brutally murdering thousands of men, women, and children is evil. Cowardly, vile, despicable, murderous, and evil.
Many debate the existence of evil. Still others accept that evil exists, but contend that it can be reasoned with and convinced to be less evil-y. The Bible sees evil as a cancer, to be rooted out and purged. Willfully attacked and eradicated. Stood against. Hated. It teaches us that sin entered the world through the partaking of fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Every one of us is born with the innate ability to understand right and wrong, good and evil, righteousness and sin. And god calls us to hate evil and cling to what is good. Without apology, I hate what was done 8 years ago today.
I think my news radio habit started that day. For weeks after, we had the radio playing most of the time at the office, hearing the latest updates from three ground zeroes, hearing the latest speeches and announcements and casualty reports. To this day scarcely a day goes by that I don’t listen to or watch news and talk programs (much to the dismay of everyone who has to ride in a car with me).
This morning as I drove into Seattle in the pre-dawn hours, many had already gathered in New York City to remember 9/11. when I turned on the radio, they were reading the names of every victim, firefighter, policeman, and hero who died that day. I was struck with that remembrance, 8 years later. Not one is forgotten. Not one is left out. And in that recitation I heard the heart of God, who remembers every victim of evil, from the blood of Abel to the end of the age, and promises to never leave us, and that someday this too shall be made right. I was comforted by these words from Isaiah 43:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
2 When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
Not one who suffered from the evil of that day or any other is forgotten. God promises that when we face evil, He is with us. And the story of the Bible begins and ends with a promise – evil was never meant to rule us, and it will someday be destroyed.
Billy Crockett wrote a song a long time ago inspired by the act of partaking in the Lord’s Table (Communion). His words are appropriate for today (transcribed the best I can remember it):
Pieces of life laid on the table
Here is the bread of life offered for us
Fill this cup, raise it up
Here’s to the Day- remember.
Can you sing for the ones whose voices are silenced?
Can you sing for the ones who’ve never been free?
Can you pray for peace, ache for peace?
Here’s to the Day that’s coming
God speed the Day…
Here’s to the Day – remember.