WHAT THE TERRORISTS CAN TEACH US
In this parable, our Lord is by no means endorsing or commending the character of the unjust steward.
But the Lord is commending him for the way he got himself out of a terribly tight situation.
Jesus used this parable as an illustration of how unsaved people sometimes show more forethought,
and passion in approaching their work and striving toward their goals than the saved do in undertaking the work of the gospel.
Jesus underscored the fact that we can learn something from this when he said, "...for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light." (V. 8)
On September 11, 2001,
the United States became the victim of evil men and an evil movement when terrorists,
acting consistently with the fundamental teaching of Islamic religion and according to a carefully coordinated plan,
brought unprecedented destruction and death to American soil.
We all know the details and we are learning more and more.
But there are some lessons we can learn from those terrorists.
Out of all this information I see four things which should get our attention.
1. The Provocation For What They Did
2. The Plans They Were Following
3. The Prayers They Prayed
4. The Price They Were Willing To Pay
Simply put, we need what they had for the work that the Lord has given us to do.
I. THE PROVOCATION
Thousands of times we watched the TV and asked ourselves, "Why?"
Why would men do such a terrible things?
How could they kill so many thousands of innocent people?
What could provoke men to do what the terrorists did on September 11?
I submit to you that they had:
An Incomprehensible Commitment.
The answer to the question "Why" is that these men were driven by a commitment.
This commitment is incomprehensible to the average person.
This commitment is also incomprehensible to the average Christian.
The terrorists had an unreserved commitment to a false religion - Islam, and to Islam's false god, Allah.
Furthermore, the terrorists' action stemmed from their fanatical commitment to Osama bin Laden.
Compare the average commitment of pastors and churches to the commitment of those who belong to the Al-Qaeda terrorist network.
Our commitment is NOT to a false god, but to the One true God of Heaven.
Our minds and hearts are not enslaved to some 7th century heresy concocted by a confused, self-seeking Arab.
Our hearts and minds are not enslaved by the Koran, created by Mohammad - a conglomeration of plagiarism and fantasies.
But the question is - how much influence does our God and the Bible have on us today as Baptists compared with the commitment manifested by Islamic terrorists?
When we compare our commitment to Christ with the commitment of the terrorists – our commitment does appear puny and pathetic.
I also believe:
The terrorists had a burning commitment.
It wasn't a lukewarm commitment that bound the Sept. 11 terrorists to their cause.
The entire world knows that there was nothing half-hearted about these men.
They had a burning commitment to what they believed and to the mission they were given to carry out.
And this kind of burning commitment, ladies and gentlemen, is exactly what we must have for the cause of Jesus Christ if we are going to reach our city.
Fire and burning zeal have always been the mark of real New Testament Christianity.
John the Baptist made it clear that it that it was in the context of powerful Holy Spirit fire that Christ came to fulfill His purpose in the world.
Luke 3:16, "John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with the fire."
Jesus said to His disciples, "I am come to send fire on the earth; and what will I, if it be already kindled?" (Luke 12:49)
Heb. 12:29 tells us that "Our God is a consuming fire."
The Holy Spirit is often spoken of in the Bible in connection with fire, as on the Day of Pentecost when He came to empower the church.
"And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost." (Acts 2:3-4)
The early churches operated under and with the firepower of heaven!
The Word of God is spoken of in terms of fire:
"Is not my word like as a fire?"
The prophet Jeremiah said, "But his word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay." (Jer. 20:9)
In the Bible, all of the great works of God and the work done for God is spoken of in the context of holy fire!
The commitment that burned in the vicious hearts of the terrorists was set on fire of hell.
But we need a fiery passion driven by the Holy Spirit of God.
I also believe:
The Terrorists had a Blind Commitment
Furthermore, these terrorists hijacked the planes and slaughtered those thousands of innocent people they did because of their blind commitment to their cause.
The truth is that we as Christians need to be blindly committed to the commandments we've been given to follow.
When the disciples were on the Mount of Transfiguration with Jesus, the disciples came to a place during that experience where we are told, "...when they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no man, save Jesus only." (Matt. 17:8)
Our lives should be so preoccupied with the Lord Jesus Christ and His will for our lives that we become blind to everything else.
This is the kind of blind commitment the songwriter had in mind when he penned the chorus of the lovely hymn, "Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus."
Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of his glory and grace.
Job said, "I made a covenant with mine eyes." (31:1)
There are more than a few areas where we need to make a covenant with our eyes if we are going to avoid being fixated on the comforts and allurements of this world, which will keep us from serving Christ effectively.
It has come to light that many of the Sept. 11 terrorists had lived in American society for many years, waiting for their opportunity to strike.
But during this time, they managed to stay undistracted from their purpose by the materialism and temptations of western society.
They simply refused to be distracted by opportunities for their own self-advancement,
They lived simple lives,
were satisfied with simple comforts,
kept their focus on the big picture on their assignment,
and stayed blind to everything counterproductive to its successful accomplishment.
Oh, how we need this kind of focus if we as Baptists are to be faithful to the purpose god has for us in this world.
The terrorists not only had an incomprehensible commitment, they had:
An Incomprehensibe Contempt
Another question that has been asked thousands of times in one form or another is, "Why do these Islamic fundamentalists hate us so much?"
The answer is found in the almost incomprehensible contempt that the terrorists have for the western world and culture and for Christianity.
The fact is that Christians need to be good haters if we are going to reach people for Christ and win victories over sin and self and Satan.
Real, authentic Christianity, the kind that "turns the world upside down," (Acts 17:6) calls for a deep and real contempt for the world, flesh, and the devil.
Psalm 97:10, "Ye that love the Lord, hate evil."
We have learned:
The Terrorists are Incapable of Mediation or Moderation
It's difficult for the western mind to accept, but our leaders are finding that any mediation or negotiations with Islamic fundamentalists is simply out of the question.
Their contempt for us and their commitment to our destruction makes them unreasonable.
They are not wishy-washy about what they believe.
I need to step in here and clear up some misconception about the beliefs of Islamic teaching.
The Islamic terrorists do not believe contrary to Islamic teaching - they are consistent with it.
I repeat, the Islamic terrorists do not believe contrary to Islamic teaching - they are consistent with it.
The terrorists are called "fundamentalists" because their belief and behavior is not out of line, but perfectly in line with the fundamental teaching of the Koran.
The Koran calls for the annihilation of whatever may stand in the way of the worldwide spread of Islam.
Therefore the terrorists will never be satisfied with anything less than the destruction of Christianity and the culture of the western world.
We as Christians should also have a deep-rooted contempt and disdain for our mortal enemies - sin and the present world system.
This world system promotes sin and is entirely anti-Christ.
But most Christians do not hate evil.
The truth is most Christians are apparently in love with, and in league with the world.
It is probably safe to say that most professed believers today are unashamedly locked into the world's philosophies and more than eager to adopt its fads and fashions.
Most Christians are more than ready to compromise with the world,
regardless of what the Bible says,
or however spiritually counterproductive this may be to themselves,
to the cause of Christ,
or to the testimony of their church.
One evidence of this is seen in the fact that many churches are actually modeling their worship services and other programs after the world.
We’ve also learned that:
The Terrorists are Incapable of Mercy
As strange as it may seem, we can also learn something from the lack of mercy from terrorists.
We as Americans cannot fathom the cold-heartedness and callousness of anyone who would do what they did.
They showed no mercy in killing helpless men, women and children - shedding no tears.
Yet, their position is the position that we as Christians need to have toward our enemies - the world, the flesh and the devil.
What are our enemies?
and the devil.
Paul made it clear what his policy was, and what ours should be toward this world system when he wrote, "The world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world." (Gal. 6:14)
Our business is to mortify the flesh, not show mercy to it.
But it is probably safe to say that we are far too lenient and merciful concerning the world, the flesh, and the devil.
If we were brutally honest about it, we would have to admit that we are soft of sin,
inclined to indulge and pamper the flesh,
and more than ready to peacefully co-exist with the world.
Yet, the Bible clearly teaches us to be merciless in our opposition to all enemies of the Spirit.
"Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God." (Rom. 8:12-14)
"But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof." (Rom. 13:14)
"And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh." (Jude 23)
Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world today.
Many Americans are being swept into it because the behavior of Muslim people is more consistent with Islamic belief than the behavior of professed Christians is with the Bible.
As a rule, Muslims more strictly adhere to the lifestyle Islam prescribes for them than Christians conform their lives to the teachings of the Bible.
Those devoted to Islam will not compromise with other religions and are not the least bit interested in any serious dialogue with other religions.
But most of today’s Baptists almost apologize for their doctrine.
Most Baptists today embrace any other religion,
embrace almost any doctrine,
no matter how contradictory it is with the teachings of the Bible.
Hey Christian – do you have an uncompromising contempt for the world, the flesh and the devil?
Do you personally have a real hatred for sin,
seeing it for what it is and loathing it.
Do you have a mournful spirit about it?
Jesus said in Matt. 5:4, “Blessed are they that mourn,” meaning blessed are those who mourn over the sin they see in themselves and in the world around them.
Do you mourn like this over sin?
Now, the hatred of Islamic terrorists is motivated by a false belief and aimed at the wrong thing,
but you cannot deny that their hatred is real, uncompromising and passionate.
We who are saved would do well to take the same position toward the enemy against which we contend which is, “…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.” (Eph. 6:12)
I. THE PROVOCATION
With its incomprehensible commitment
A burning commitment
A blind commitment
With is incomprehensible contempt
Incapable of mercy
II. THE PLAN
Another thing we learned from the terrorists concerns the importance of having plans and following them.
We discovered that there were:
Plans carefully formed.
We now know that the terrorists hijacked the airlines,
destroyed the Twin Towers,
and crashed into the Pentagon,
all according to plans that had been carefully formulated.
Someone had spent months and months studying the World Trade Center and discovered its weaknesses.
They calculated that if they could get just one floor to collapse, the entire building would fall.
They calculated that a jet full of fuel would burn with enough heat and intensity to melt the metal supports and thus cause the walls to collapse – setting off the collapse we saw on television.
The terrorists were operating strictly under orders according to carefully prepared plans that had been entrusted to them.
We also learn that the terrorists had:
Plans to infiltrate this nation.
The hijacker’s plans called for them to infiltrate our country.
Many of them lived here for years,
worked in our work places,
and enrolled in our schools.
In this way they infiltrated our society.
But isn’t that exactly what Jesus told us to do?
Jesus prayed, “As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.” (John 17:18)
“And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” (Mark 16:15)
But are we?
Have we infiltrated our world with a testimony for Jesus Christ?
Look at what Jesus said in Matt. 5:13-14
The terrorists moved in and out among us with the secret intention of killing us,
but our goal as Christians is to permeate our society as salt and light,
seeking to win men and women to Christ.
We have learned that the terrorists had:
Plans to impact this nation.
The terrorists infiltrated America because they wanted to impact this nation in a mighty way.
The word “impact” is defined as “a forceful contact; collision; the force or impression of one thing on another; an impelling or compelling effect.”
The terrorists accomplished this.
Because of their actions:
we have lost the security we once had,
we have a fear now that we never had before,
we have been changed forever,
nothing will ever be the same again.
And that is exactly what the terrorists wanted – but – but – but – isn’t that exactly what our goal and purpose is as Christians?
Our job is to impact the world in such a way through the testimony of our changed lives,
through the power of the Holy Spirit,
and through the witness of the Word of God that the world will be turned upside down.
Look at Acts 17:6, “…These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also.”
But we are not there yet, and unless we change our commitment, we never will be.
Paul described our duty in Acts 26:18, “To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.”
The terrorists did their work with box cutters, anthrax letters, human craftiness, and airplanes.
We have weapons as well – but they are not material.
We have the Word of God. Heb. 4:12
“For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”
We have prayer along with the knowledge that “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much,” (James 5:16)
and that our God “is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask of think, according to the power that worketh in us.” (Eph. 3:20)
We also have faith that can move mountains, faith about which Jesus promised us, “If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed…nothing shall be impossible to you.” (Matt. 17:20)
The terrorists, according to the plans laid out for them, brought down the Twin Towers.
Our God-given plans call for us to target the thousands of towers of sin that are in this world, and bring them down with “the weapons of our warfare,” which “are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds.” (II Cor. 10:4)
Think of the strongholds of sin in our lives,
in our families,
in our city,
in our nation,
and even in our churches,
that need to be pulled down.
We have God’s plans,
and God’s power,
to pull down the strongholds of sin!
But we’re not.
We just need the same level of commitment that the terrorists had.
We know that the terrorists had:
Plans carefully followed.
The best plan in the world is useless if nothing is done with it.
The terrorists had detailed plans and they followed them,
and with blind commitment.
We as New Testament Christians,
and New Testament churches,
we have divinely detailed plans for evangelizing the world,
but those plans are not being followed.
The terrorists were not lazy about following the plans that were given to them.
They were busy.
They didn’t work according to the plan when they were in the mood to do so.
NO – they were not lazy – they were diligent.
The tendency of most Christians is to be lazy and lackadaisical, just the opposite of what we’re told to do.
“Now it is high time to awake out of sleep.” (Rom. 13:11)
“See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.” (Eph. 5:15-17)
Someone said, “Laziness grows on people; it begins in cobwebs and ends in iron chains.”
Our Lord was not lazy – He said to His disciples when He was on earth, “I must WORK the works of Him that sent me while it is day; the night cometh when no man can work.” (John 9:4)
“My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.” (John 4:34)
“Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.” (John 4:35)
The old maxim is true – “It’s the start that stops most people.”
If we as Christians were half as serious about carrying out the Great Commission as the terrorists were about carrying out their devilish plans, what a difference it would make for the cause of Christ!
Someone once said, “Many are called, but few get up!”
There are a lot of “gonna-doers” in our pews today who never get anything done for God because they never get started.
This is no time for Christians to be lazy.
We need to do what is right,
do it the right way,
and do it right now!
There is very little good that can be said of the terrorists who attacked us on September 11, 2001, but it cannot be said that they were not men of action when it came to following their orders.
Christians today need to act on the plans God has given us.
We also learned that:
The terrorists did not deviate from the plans that were given to them.
Not only were the terrorists not lazy, they did not deviate from their plans.
They did nothing more and nothing less that what they had been told to do.
Churches and Christians today seem to be trying to re-work and re-structure the plans God has given to His churches.
We must be careful not to follow trends and adopting methods for evangelism and worship which are not predicated in Scripture.
We do not have the liberty to act as though we have no clear-cut orders or plans to follow. WE DO!
We have our orders as found in Matt. 28:18-20, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.”
God’s plan for us is to evangelize sinners and to see that the saved are educated, edified, and enlisted in the work of the church, beginning with their baptism.
We just cannot be lazy about our work or deviate from the plan God has given us to follow.
I. The Provocation
With its incomprehensible commitment
A burning commitment
A blind commitment
With is incomprehensible contempt