I was a pastor in Teague, Texas when the dastardly deed happened in New York, Sept. 11, 2001. It was billed as the worst act of terrorism ever committed on our homeland.
I recall the anguish of the American people -- our president called us together in unity. The scandal of Congressman Gary Condit and his extramarital affair with intern Chandra Levy, who ended up missing, was top of the news cycle on Sept. 10, Somehow, that story vanished into oblivion by 8:45 a.m. Eastern time, the next day.
And one other thing I noticed. Churches all across America saw overflow crowds — people who had been shaken to the core — jamming into God's house. We experienced it in our church in Teague. It seemed the tragic occurrence was used to bring revival to the land.
But no. The crowds tended to dissipate within a few weeks -- the effects of the shock and awe of 9-1-1 became a distant memory to many. Soon, it was back to business as usual.
Just this past week, some congressmen were up early to practice for the annual congressional charity baseball game. Suddenly, a mad man appeared, with an arsenal and a vendetta and started shooting. Several were wounded, including one with the most critical wound, congressional majority party whip, Steve Scalise.
All of a sudden, the pause button was pushed on the high-fevered, vicious political rhetoric which had gripped our society for months and months. Suddenly, for the first time in months, there seemed to be a spirit of unity. When Congress met that morning, House Speaker Paul Ryan's declaration brought probably one of the longest ovations ever in regular congressional session.
"When one of us are attacked, we are all attacked," he declared.
It wasn't like the State of the Union address when the opposition party sits with sullen smirks and arms folded while the president's party stands and wildly cheers.
This session, if only for a brief moment, saw everyone from both sides of the aisle standing and applauding in unison.
But while I rejoiced at this gesture, I couldn't help but wonder, "Does it take the congressional party whip taking a bullet before all of Congress gathers and sings "Kumbaya? Does it make the World Trade Center towers being reduced to rubble and almost 3,000 Americans being murdered by mad men of the middle east before we band together as a nation?
Then, by the end of the day of June 14, the vicious rhetoric was ramped up.
What am I trying to say? Mens' hearts are not changed by a bullet, a demolished city, war or vicious attack on our American way of life. Genuine change in hearts can only come when Christ comes in and changes those hearts.
When the hearts of all Americans experience this change, then we will begin to see change for the good in our society.