Do you know what I remember about September 11, 2001? That is the day I slept in.
I was a junior at Harding University. I had been feeling a little under the weather (no, really), so I decided to sleep in that morning. I got up around ten, got ready as usual, and made my way over to the music building for choir.
There was something different about the atmosphere in the foyer of the music building that morning. I did not know why or what was different, but I could tell something was happening. Students and faculty were huddled in groups, sometimes hugging, usually just standing, and all eyes were fixed on the two televisions hung on the walls of the foyer. So, naturally, I watched the televisions, too.
As I tried to get my mind around what exactly was going on a friend walked over in tears. With my eyes still fixed on the television and my head still taking in the needed information to process all that I had missed so far that morning, my friend buried his face in my shoulder as he repeated, “Why? How could they do such a thing?” I embraced him with awkward arms in a flimsy effort to console an inconsolable friend, and as I did so I finally grasped, as much as was possible for any of us that morning, what had happened.
The rest of the day is a blur for me. I know that many classes were cancelled, and that those that were not were replaced with times of prayer, reflection, and news-watching. But, I remember, vividly, that I slept in.
My memory reminds me of how easy it is to miss even the most important things in life. And, it reminds me that many people are asleep when it comes to knowing, understanding, and accepting the one event that defines all of history, the greatest tragedy and the greatest victory, the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.
The tragedy of it was that God, in all of His love, mercy, grace, and kindness chose to join us, to become one of us, to dwell among us as a living example of what we all can be, and we killed Him. What a scar on human history. We will forever be remembered as those who murdered the Son of God.
The victory of it is that God used the grandest failure of humanity to accomplish the single greatest feat of history: salvation for mankind. To bring about the means for our salvation is one thing, but for God to fashion our worst sin into the best mistake we ever made is, for lack of a better word, miraculous. So, the message that Jesus Christ died a horribly cruel and torturous death is called “Good News.” By His wounds we are healed. [Isaiah 53:5; 1Peter 2:24]
And people are missing it. They are asleep. No, it is worse than that. They are dead. We must wake them up; we must revive them.
But, in order to revive them we must be alive ourselves. We cannot afford to take the cross for granted. We cannot afford to take our responsibilities to Jesus Christ for granted. For our sakes and theirs, we cannot afford to sleep any longer. We must be Christians in every sense of the word.
As the apostle Paul said, possibly quoting an early Christian hymn, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” [Ephesians 5:14]