was just a few hours after the horror of September 11, 2001.
ZERO: The site of New York's twin towers, felled in
the horror now known to the world as "September
11". PICTURE: Roderick Yang (www.sxc.hu)
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."
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
"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
For me, these events were a stark reminder of the power of
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?
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.
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."
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
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.
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."
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
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.
Fletcher is the founder and director of Next Wave International,
a Christian mission to contemporary cultures
with a special focus on Europe.
Reproduced with permission from
www.nextwaveonline.com. Copyright Mal Fletcher 2006.