Since the September 11th World Trade Center and Pentagon terrorist attacks, a
growing angst has descended on the western world, nurtured by media ready to
recount the latest morsels of anthrax-generated anxiety. Panicky people are
looking to government to restore the security they once felt. But no
government can shield its people from an enemy who wears no uniform and thinks
he wins by losing. Even though intelligence sources had been discussing the
possibility of terrorism for years, the events of the last few months caught
most of the public unawares and unprepared. It couldn't happen here.
But it did.
Nothing New Under the
Americans are especially on edge. A "new" threat has emerged that is even
more real than the Cold War's promise of nuclear holocaust. The threat,
however, is not new. For years Americans watched as terrorists struck
places like Israel, Northern Ireland, and parts of mainland Europe to intimidate
their enemies. Newscasts covered attacks on American targets abroad like
the USS Cole and embassies in Tanzania and Kenya. But most of those
attacks were "over there," the earlier attempt to bring down the World Trade
Center in 1993 notwithstanding.
Last year the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) published its report
entitled, "Global Trends 2015: A Dialogue About the Future With Nongovernment
Experts,"1 which clearly warned of vulnerability to
terrorism. The lengthy report extends current trend lines into the future, but
some of the statements within this report were startlingly frank: "The
probability that a missile armed with WMD (weapons of mass destruction) would be
used against U.S. forces or interests is higher today than during most of the
Cold War and will continue to grow." Last December CIA Director George Tenet
summarized the reason for this in a speech delivered in Los Angeles:
The paradigm of the past was relatively easy to grasp. Its dominant
feature: two superpowers locked in a confrontation with clear limits and
well-understood rules. Today, there are fewer rules, and fewer people willing to
play by them. And the constant march of technology threatens to break new
paradigms even before they take shape.2
Tenet was concerned about not only weapons of mass destruction, but also "weapons of
mass disruption,"3 meaning the disruption of computer
systems as well. He feared the economic and military impact of sophisticated
computer terrorists, a very real problem when our high-tech, computer-assisted
military attempts to fight a war in a remote part of the world like Afghanistan.
Nuclear weapons proliferation has long been a concern, especially when rogue
nations like Iraq aggressively possess or pursue such technology.
Terrorists may or may not have access to portable, "suitcase nukes." But
what is perhaps even more likely is a "dirty bomb," which is nothing more than a
conventional bomb packed with radioactive materials. These materials can
easily be obtained from civilian sources such as hospitals where radiation
treatments are administered. When detonated, the explosion is conventional
rather than nuclear, but the bomb disperses radioactive material, which can
potentially afflict thousands of people with radiation sickness and make the
surrounding vicinity virtually uninhabitable for years.4
The Worst Enemy Is Yet to
As the reality of vulnerability sinks in and the probability of future
terrorist attacks grows, the worst enemy is already on the horizon. Great
military leaders of history all have one thing in common: they believed they
were destined to win, no matter what the odds, and they conveyed that confidence
to their troops. The Bible is replete with stories of fearful enemies fleeing
before inferior forces because panic had taken hold and reason became the first
casualty. President Franklin Roosevelt understood this principle when he told
the American people at the beginning of World War II, "The only thing we have to
fear is fear itself."
Real terror comes not from the murder of thousands of innocent people, nor
from sending anthrax spores through the mail. More people die every day
around the world than from all the terrorist acts combined. Real terror
comes when people lose courage and begin cowering in fear. We have
received phone calls from people who are under such strain over current issues
that it threatens to tear their marriages and families apart. Seminary
students admit they are afraid. But of what? No one is guaranteed any time
on this planet. Each day is a privilege and no day is a right.
Indeed, the time for each of us is known only by God and He tells us we can't
extend or shorten that time but we should be good stewards of the time we have,
while today is yet today. This is a lesson western Christians must take to
heart. Now is not the time to run but to strengthen the ties that bind and face
the difficult times that are sure to come. As Christians there is nothing to
fear, because we know that God has already defeated him who can cast our souls
into hell, and He has a purpose for our lives and our deaths.
We also know that we "wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against
principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this
world, against spiritual wickedness in high places."5
Our enemy is not bin Laden and his henchmen. Our battle is a spiritual battle
where the ultimate victory is won when the
lost-even our enemies-are given the good news of Jesus Christ and have their
sins forgiven. God made no mistake by placing us in this time and place, and as
such we are admonished to be brave and to contend for the faith. We are soldiers
in a mighty spiritual army. Each has a unique mission incapable of being filled
by another. It is time to pray for direction and purpose, and then boldly
do what He commands us to do. If we truly believe that we are in the end
times, and that the coming of our Messiah is near, then we need to be about our
Master's business. Our goal is to hear the words, "Well done, my good and
"Life's a bummer and then you die" is counsel only the world can
give. The Bible affirms that life is indeed a bummer and indeed we die,
but it goes on to affirm abundant life here and eternal life for all who are in
Christ. So bravely carry your light where it needs to go and remember,
darkness is a great place for light to shine!
- "Global Trends 2015: A Dialogue about the Future with
Nongovernmental Experts," http://www.cia.gov,
December 2, 2000.
- Tenet, George J., "Remarks as Prepared for
Delivery by the Director of Central Intelligence George J. Tenet at the Town
Hall of Los Angeles," http://www.cia.gov,
December 7, 2000.
- Easterbrook, Gregg,
"The Real Danger is Nuclear. The Big One," The New Republic on Line,
October 25, 2001.
- Ephesians 6:12.
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