Rising to the Occasion and Going One Step Beyond

“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”– Jesus Christ (John 15:12-13 NIV)

September 10, 2011

Ten years ago we were glued to our televisions as we watched the Twin Towers fall and the Pentagon burn. We recoiled in horror as we imagined the fight in the cockpit of United Flight 93 over Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Our heroes were the firefighters and first responders at The World Trade Center, the passengers and flight crews who put up a fight, and the selfless souls who gave up their lives so others might live. The day that rocked our world defined drama and destiny; a real-life reenactment of the battle between good and evil, where brave souls wearing the face of Jesus lay down their lives to save strangers. The fury of hate was foiled by the face of love.

I’ve been watching television coverage of this solemn anniversary, and to the families of the fallen, I extend my sincerest condolences and grateful thanks. In no way do I wish to minimize the sacrifices made or the losses suffered. But I ask that we remember that as children of God, we too are called into battle every day. Our enemy masquerades as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14) just as the terrorist strives to blend in with his target. He “prowls around, looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8 NIV) Like the terrorist, he uses fear and intimidation to accomplish his purposes, striking when we least expect him in ways we could hardly imagine. If we read our Bible we know the enemy is out there and he hates us. We are fools if we ignore the danger. How, then, should we live?

The Department of Homeland Security works on our behalf to protect us from the terrorist threat. We take off our shoes at the airport, remove the scissors from our carry-on bags and submit to X-rays just to enter our government buildings. Nobody likes it but we put on our big-boy pants and act like grownups. That’s the price we pay to keep from getting blown up. Likewise, God gave us weapons to use in the war against Satan. Refusing to acknowledge we’re at war or assuming someone else will fight the battle for us is lazy, childish, and not particularly smart. If we’re not willing to rise to the occasion and use the tools He gave us, we can’t blame God when the devil finds a foothold and shakes the ground beneath our feet.

Our arsenal comes complete and can be found, item by item, in Ephesians 6:10-18. The firefighters who climbed the stairs at The World Trade Center each carried 110 pounds of equipment as they sweated their way up floor by floor. All we have to do is fall to our knees every morning and put on the armor of God. So we suit up and show up for war, understanding the one thing the firefighters must also have known:

Sometimes we lose the battle.

“Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” (Ephesians 6:13 NIV) Sometimes all that’s left is a burned battlefield and one lone soldier silhouetted against a ragged sky. That’s what Ground Zero looked like after the towers fell. For all their courage and all their efforts, the buildings fell and people died. But because of their courage, and because of their efforts, many people lived. The firefighters did not die in vain, nor did the passengers of Flight 93; neither are our efforts for naught. We may lose the battle, but God will not lose the war. He will use our suffering for our good and His glory. To this end, He calls us to live one step beyond our own self-protection.

In the last verse in our list of armor, Paul writes, “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions, with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep praying for all the saints.” (Ephesians 6:18 NIV) The firefighters carried a backbreaking load of equipment not only to protect themselves, but to save those in danger. Likewise, we are responsible not only to pray for ourselves and our own protection, but to pray God’s armor over our loved ones, our friends, and our leaders. “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” -Jesus Christ (John 15:12-13 NIV) Laying down our lives can be as simple as five minutes of prayer every morning for those in the line of fire, and those already under attack. It’s time to put on our big-boy pants and stand up for those who can’t stand up for themselves. It was the signature of the 9/11 heroes; it should also be God’s signature, written on us.

The fury of hate can only be foiled by the face of love. Alone, we are sitting ducks for the enemy abroad as well as the enemy within. But we are not alone. Let us put on our armor and join forces with others in prayer. Let us, as Jesus commands, lay down our lives (at least five minutes a day) for our communities, our troops, and our leaders. Let us remember the heroes who gave their own lives, as well as our Hero, who gave His for ours. Let us remember 9/11, and take up our weapons in the battle of good versus evil. We have a job to do.

©2011 Rachel Ophoff, Coconut Mountain Communications LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Please visit my website at http://www.friendshipwithjesus.com

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