Many of us heard about it before we saw it on television. Once we saw the smoke billowing from the World Trade Center and the footage of the fiery airline crash, the images were imprinted on our memory for the rest of our life. An eery feeling comes over us when we see the original twin towers in an old movie. Like the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the 9-11 attack brought the most powerful nation in the world to its knees. Literally.

The skies were clear for the rest of that day with no planes above us. At times there was a hush over the land and then long discussions about what happened interrupted the silence. In the weeks that followed, church attendance rose. People talked more about God and prayed openly. As it often does, tragedy had opened our eyes to the frailty of life.

Then we got the wish many people hope for even now. Things got back to normal and we felt safe again. The spike in religious interest and church attendance dropped. Still, the words “We will never forget” were printed beneath signs with pictures of that day’s devastation. I’m sure those who said these words were and are sincere about their love for the country. But have we really changed spiritually and morally? And, what did we really understand then and what have we learned since?

Have we learned anything about the religion of Islam? Thanks to the media and politicians, the answer for many is no. It is true that this atrocity opened the eyes of some as to the nature of this religion. They looked into the Koran and other authoritative Muslim sources and discovered that Islam, which means submission, is a political system and not just another religion. Its aim is to impose the rule and law of the teaching of Muhammed on the world. This movement uses every means possible to conquer: immigration, legal and financial reform, educational platforms in our schools, and martyrdom through suicide attacks to name a few. These are all forms of jihad or holy war in Islam. The fact is, however, that most of our leaders are still ignorant about this. It is easier for them to brush it aside and say they don’t have time for religious debates.

Have we thought since that day about what happens to nations that turn from God? “The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God” (Psa. 9:17). Thelaw that says we reap what we sow applies to societies as well as to individuals (Gal. 6:7).We will never forget that day, but did we realize then and do we understand now that a nation cannot flaunt its sins before God without paying the price? It has been twenty years since that harrowing experience, and many have still not learned this lesson.

Perhaps it is time to apply these words on a higher plane. We will never forget that God created this world and will end it some day (Gen. 1:1; II Pet. 3:10). We will never forget that life is short and death is certain (James 4:14). We will never forget the cross of Christ is the only hope of the world (John 12:32-33). We will never forget that our body will return to the dust and we will all stand before God in judgment (Gen. 3:19; Rom. 14:12). We will never forget that the two most important considerations for the future are heaven and hell (Matt 25:46). As we reflect on that tragic day, let us look through the eyes of faith.

-Kerry Duke