In the next few days we’ll be hearing and seeing many things in the news about the events of September 11, 2001. There will be many memorial services and times of reflection. I want to reflect for a moment and share with you a quote from Christin Ditchfield. She wrote this in an article for Focus on the Family;
“On the morning of Sept. 11, Jeannie Braca switched on the television to check the weather report, only to hear that a plane had just hit the World Trade Center. Jeannie’s husband, Al, worked as a corporate bond trader for Cantor Fitzgerald. His office was on the 105th floor of Tower One… A week later, Al’s body was found in the rubble.”
Then reports trickled in from friends and acquaintances. Some people on the 105th floor had made a last call or sent a final e-mail to a loved one saying that “a man” was leading people in prayer. A few referred to Al by name. The Bracas learned that Al had indeed been ministering to people during the attack. When he realized that they were all trapped in the building and would not be able to escape, Al shared the gospel with a group of 50 co-workers and led them in prayer.
This news came as no surprise to Jeannie. For years, she and Al had been praying for the salvation of these men and women. According to Jeannie, Al hated his job; he couldn’t stand the environment. It was a world so completely out of touch with his Christian values. But he wouldn’t quit. He was convinced that God wanted him to stay there, to be a light in the darkness. To that end, Al freely shared his faith with his co-workers, many of whom sarcastically nicknamed him “The Rev.”
“They mocked him,” Jeannie recalls, “but when horrible things happened in their lives, they always asked Al for prayer.”
He prayed with them and shared the importance of having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
On Sept. 11, in the midst of the chaos, Al’s family was uppermost on his mind. Unable to get through on the phone, Al asked an MCI operator to contact his family. “Tell them that I love them,” he said. It took the operator more than a month to reach the Bracas, but the message brought them much-needed comfort.
“The last thing my dad did involved the two things most important to him?God and his family,” (his son) Christopher says. “He loved to lead people to Christ. That takes away a lot of the hurt and the pain.” (Christin Ditchfield, Focus on the Family magazine)
September 11, 2001 is a day that will be forever etched in our memories. It was a dark day in our country’s history. We can probably remember clearly where we were and what we were doing when we heard news of the World Trade Center being struck by the first airplane. We watched in horror as the news replayed the planes flying into the twin towers. Some of us saw the second plane strike as we were watching the news, live. News of another plane striking the Pentagon and yet another plane crashing in Pennsylvania left us wondering what in the world was taking place. I remember wondering how many more planes would down that day.
The weather that day in New York and Washington D.C. and Pennsylvania was actually quite nice. If you ventured outside that day you would have been struck with what a beautiful day it was. Yet it was one of the darkest days in our nation’s history.
As we learned about the hi-jackers and what motivated them, we were confronted with the evil, dark depravity that is out there in this world. It’s easy for us to get caught up with living our lives each day and getting comfortable and failing to see the darkness that is all around us. Yet on September 11, we could not escape the fact that this world is a dark, evil place.
Our President has designated September 6-8 as National Days of Prayer and Remembrance, as we remember the terrible events of September 11, 2001. As believers, September 11 can serve as a reminder of the darkness and depravity of the world we live in and should motivate us to “let our let shine.” As we remember today those who lost their lives almost one year ago, let’s determine to let our light shine brightly in this darkened permeated by sin and hatred.
I want to look at Matthew 5:14-16 today.
Matthew 5:14 “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden.
15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.
16 In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.
Al Braca understood the importance of letting his light shine before men. In his dying moments his light was shining. He didn’t wait until then to let his light shine either. As his wife shared, he let his light shine before that time by sharing Christ regularly with his co-workers.
Jesus told us that we “are the light of the world.” We are light in a world that is darkened by sin. Psalm 82:5 speaking of the wicked tells us?
Psalm 82:5 “They know nothing, they understand nothing. They walk about in darkness; all the foundations of the earth are shaken.
And Proverbs 4:19 says?
Proverbs 4:19 But the way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know what makes them stumble.
And Ephesians 6:12 reminds us?
Ephesians 6:12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
This world is a dark place! We saw that demonstrated very clearly on September 11. If we know the Lord Jesus Christ, our lives should be light in the midst of this darkness.
Ephesians 5:8 notes that?
Ephesians 5:8 ? you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light
Colossians 1:13 reminds us that we’ve been delivered from the darkness?
Colossians 1:13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves,
And note what 1 Thessalonians 5:4-5 says?
1 Thessalonians 5:4 But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief.
v5 You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness.
What a privilege, that those who’ve trusted in Christ are no longer in darkness! It is also a great responsibility that Chrisitians have as light in this world. In the verse we looked at in Ephesians 5:8 it said, “Live as children of light.” As we remember September 11, we need to determine to “live as children of light.” We live in a world that desperately needs the light!
Back in Matthew 5:14, we are told, “a city on a hill cannot be hidden.” J.K. Laney tells of a cold winter morning in 1979 when he witnessed this very truth. He says?
“For several weeks the newspaper had been announcing that Portland, Oregon, would be in the direct path of a solar eclipse. Scientists explained that the moon would pass between the earth and the sun, casting the moon’s dark shadow over Portland for approximately three minutes. On February 26th, the day of the eclipse, I went to my office as usual. But just before the solar eclipse I went out to the front porch of the seminary administration building; there on the crest of a small hill I had a marvelous view of the city sloping toward the downtown business district. Suddenly, as expected, the sky began to darken?though much more quickly than at sunset. In a few more moments, the city of Portland became as dark as night. Just as suddenly as the darkness had come, something else happened?something I had not anticipated. Thousands of streetlights around the city began to blink on dispelling the darkness of the eclipse. Although the sky was as dark as on any night, everywhere I looked lights were shining.” (J.K. Laney, Kindred Spirit, Spring, 1990,p.8 taken from bible.org)
If you are believer in Jesus Christ you need to be like that city on a hill. Your life should be a clear testimony of the light we have in Jesus Christ. Our testimony should stand out clearly in this sin-darkened world.
In verse 15 of Matthew 5 we see that people don’t light a lamp and put it under a bowl. No, instead they put it on a stand so it gives light to the whole house. It reminds me of the chorus, “This Little Light of Mine”. Remember the verse, “hide it under a bushel, No! I’m going to let it shine.” I’m afraid that we sometime do hide our light under a bushel. We are embarrassed or afraid to let our light shine, or in the midst of sin, so we hide it.
At the beginning of the Reformation, Martin of Basle, Switzerland, came to the knowledge of the truth. He accepted Jesus as his Savior. Afraid to let his friends know that he no longer believed the many falsehoods taught by his formal church, he wrote these words on a leaf of parchment. “O merciful Christ, I know that I can be saved only by the merit of Thy blood. Holy Jesus, I love Thee.” Removing a stone from the wall of his chamber, he hid behind the stone these beautiful words. The parchment was discovered more than a hundred years later.
About the same time, Martin Luther of Wittenberg, Germany, also found the truth in Christ. Boldly he confessed, “My Lord has confessed me before men: I will not shrink from confessing my Lord before princes and kings!” We all know what followed. Everybody has heard what Martin Luther accomplished by his public confession of Christ. On the contrary, no one knows of Martin of Basle.
If your life is to bear fruit, we cannot hide behind a stone in the wall our love for Jesus (Rom. 10:9, 10) (The Christian Herald, Leadership, IV,4,1986)
We need to make sure our light is shining so that others in the world see the light. In verse 16 of Matthew 5, Jesus tells us to let our light shine before men so that they will see our good works and glorify our Father in heaven. Frank Harrington tells this story?
“A little girl had come home from Sunday school, where she had been taught the verse: Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and give glory to our Father who is in heaven. She asked her mother, when she repeated the verse, what it meant. Her mom said, “Well, it means that when you are good and kind and thoughtful and obedient, you are letting Christ’s light shine in your life before all who know you.”
The very next Sunday in Sunday school, the little girl got in a bit of a fracas with another student and created somewhat of an uproar–to such an extent that the Sunday school teacher had to go and find her mother to get her settled down a bit in the class. Her mother was concerned when she got to the classroom and said, “Sweetie, don’t you remember about letting your light shine for the Lord before men?” The girl blurted out, “Mom, I have blowed myself out.”
Many of us have done just that. In our relationship to Christ, our light has gone out.” (W. Frank Harrington, “The Love That Brought Him,” Preaching Today, Tape No. 51)
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if all across our nation as believers remember September 11, 2001, we would determine afresh to “let our light shine before men so that they would see our good deeds and glorify our Father in heaven? In the midst of the tragic events of last September, it’s refreshing to read about men like Al Braca sharing his faith in his final moments on this earth with his co-workers. There are many other accounts of other believers who took the opportunity to shine in the midst of the darkness surrounding that terrible day.
As we remember September 11, we can’t help but be reminded what a dark world this is. Let’s be freshly challenged to let our light shine as believers. John Stott reminds us of the important role we have as believers and the body of Christ to let our light shine. He says?
“You know what your own country is like. I’m a visitor, and I wouldn’t presume to speak about America. But I know what Great Britain is like. I know something about the growing dishonesty, corruption, immorality, violence, pornography, the diminishing respect for human life, and the increase in abortion.
Whose fault is it? Let me put it like this: if the house is dark at night, there is no sense in blaming the house. That’s what happens when the sun goes down. The question to ask is, “Where is the light?”
If meat goes bad, there is no sense in blaming the meat. That is what happens when the bacteria are allowed to breed unchecked. The question to ask is, “Where is the salt?”
If society becomes corrupt like a dark night or stinking fish, there’s no sense in blaming society. That’s what happens when fallen human society is left to itself and human evil is unrestrained and unchecked. The question to ask is “Where is the church?” (John Stott, “Christians: Salt and Light,” Preaching Today, Tape No. 109)
I’m afraid we’re like the little girl who “blowed herself out” and wasn’t letting her light shine. Our lives aren’t much different from the unbelievers around us and they can’t see any light in our lives. Let’s look again at a passage we looked at earlier, Ephesians 5:8 but this time let’s look at verses 9 and 10 as well.
Ephesians 5:8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light
9 (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth)
10 and find out what pleases the Lord.
We need to live as children of light. Goodness, righteousness and truth is the fruit of that light. We need to find out what pleases the Lord and we’ll know by searching the scriptures. If we find out what pleases the Lord, and we live lives that are pleasing to Him, our lights will shine in this dark world. We need to faithfully be sharing the gospel with others and living lives that are good testimonies to those in the darkness of sin.
As the events of September 11, 2001 are remembered today and in the following days, there will be many candles lit to remember the victims of that dreadful day. Many will pause to remember and reflect on the events of September 11 and many will go on with life without it really making a difference in their lives. As believers we should use it as an opportunity to shine brightly.
Al Braca was prepared to die on September 11 and he wanted others he was concerned about to be ready to face death that day as well. That is why he took the time to share the gospel with others. There were probably many who lost their lives that day that weren’t ready to die.
Maybe, today, you can’t let your light shine because you are trapped in the darkness. You aren’t ready to face death because you’ve never trusted Christ as your Savior. If you had been in the twin towers last year, or in one of the planes that crashed, or in the Pentagon, would you have been ready to die? Are you ready to die today? Many of those who lost their lives that day never realized that would be their last day on earth. If you would like to know how you can be prepared to die I would love to share with you how you can be freed from the darkness of sin. After the close of the service this morning you come and tell me you want to know Christ.
If you do know the Lord today, do others see the light in you? Let’s make sure we are letting our lights shine before men.
© 2002 Kevin Pierpont