One Thing the 9/11 Terrorists Got Right

One Thing the 9/11 Terrorists Got Right

The 9/11 terrorists were governed by what they believed about their future. That’s the way it should be. But if the future you envision is wrong, you will be shocked when you die.

The terrorists believed that the instant they died as murderers of infidels “the women of paradise would be waiting.” Here’s an excerpt from one of their notebooks:

Purify your heart and clean it from all earthly matters. The time of fun and waste has gone. . . . Those few hours that are left you in your life are very few. From there you will begin to live the happy life, the infinite paradise. . . . Read al-Tawba and Anfal [traditiaonal war chapters from the Quran] and reflect on their meanings and remember all of the things that Allah has promised for the martyrs. . . . Know that the gardens of paradise are waiting for you in all their beauty, and the women of paradise are waiting, calling out, ‘Come hither, friend of God.’ They are dressed in their most beautiful clothing. (Quoted from Marvin Olasky, “Islam vs. Liberty” World Sept. 10, 2011, 77)

We too — the disciples of Jesus — believe that we should be governed by the future. Only our hope of reward leads to suffering for infidels not killing them.

Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven. (Matthew 5:11–12)

The basis of our behavior is what we believe about our future. “Your reward will be great.” But this reward is fellowship with the sovereign, self-sacrificing Christ. And that hope makes us joyfully endure persecution. Murdering infidels is not the door to this reward. Suffering for the sake of their salvation is.

This pattern of motivation was followed by Jesus himself. “For the joy that was set before him he endured the cross” (Hebrews 12:2). Jesus’ life, too, was grounded in what he believed about his future. He would rise and gather millions of infidels out of unbelief and bring them, by his own blood, into perfect fellowship with God. That joy moved him not to kill them but to die for them.

Let us learn again from the infidels who refused Christ and threw themselves into the fireball of hell on 9/11, that the future is a very powerful thing. Both false futures and true futures. God means for the true future to govern us. We should be controlled by what we believe about our future.

Learn from the terrorists: Don’t throw your life away pursuing their future. And don’t throw it away on the American dream. Fall in love with the final future glory. “Rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5:2). “In your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11).

This carried Jesus to the cross. It may carry you to Mecca.

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John Piper (@JohnPiper) is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is author of more than 50 books.