Yesterday marked the tenth anniversary of the largest act of terrorism against our nation, better known to the world as 9/11. Today’s newspaper in Pittsburgh was filled with news items and articles surrounding this ominous anniversary. Among these were several items regarding security scares at various airports and flights. In New York, a flight from Los Angeles was escorted by two F-16 fighter jets because three passengers would not leave a plane bathroom. In Detroit, a flight from Denver had three passengers who did the same thing. In Dallas, a rental truck was parked too long at DFW airport prompting suspicion and fear. In Kansas City, an ex-NYC police officer was detained for having suspicious items in his carry-on bag that he refused to let TSA screeners examine. Nothing serious has yet come of any of these incidents, but the nation was on edge yesterday. The anniversary probably brought out the neurotic in search of 15 minutes of fame, but the country was taking extra precautions. It was probably the worst day to try these shenanigans (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 9/12/11, A8).
Paranoia is detrimental and abnormal. None of us should be guilty of such. Seeing things that are not there is unhealthy. Yet, there is a sense in which all of us should live with heightened sensitivity. Peter says, “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world” (1 Pet. 5:8-9). Sobriety, alertness, and firm resistance are acts of heightened sensitivity. Knowing the strength and influence of our opponent, we must stay keenly aware of his tactics and attempts. One cannot be too guarded with this enemy. Earlier, Peter writes for Christians to “prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit” (1 Pet. 1:13). Paranoia involves perceiving what is not a real threat. Vigilance involves perceiving what is. Such is our daily task!