May 02, 2011

On the Day After Bin Laden's Death

In mainstream Christian theology, the government has been given "the sword" of justice. The government has now used that sword to eliminate a mass murderer. My feelings are mixed. I am certainly not unhappy that Bin Laden is no longer plotting massacres against innocent people. And I do admit a sense of nationalistic pride in President Obama and our military. But I also find the whole idea of splashing about in the blood of our enemies in a joyous celebration of death (as one of my facebook friends approvingly put it) to be quite macabre to me. The celebration of death just doesn't sound at all like the Jesus I know. When Christ was contemplating the impending destruction of Jerusalem, his heart was broken as he gazed out over the city. "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!" (Luke 13:34 NIV84).

If I am to believe the Scriptures, God does not party when the wicked receive the wages of their sins."‘As surely as I live,' declares the Sovereign LORD, 'I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die...?'" (Ezekiel 33:11 NIV84).

We are programmed, I think, to rejoice over the deaths of our enemies. I mean, who didn't cheer when Dorothy's house landed on the Wicked Witch of the East? But there comes a point where our adherence to the Red Letters should override our carnal instinct to celebrate death. At least I would hope that such would be true in me. "Bloodthirsty Christian" should be an oxymoron, shouldn't it?

So I wrestle with these issues and emotions, as I'm sure all gospel-observant Christians do, hoping to strike a biblical balance wherein the death of a mass murderer is both a righteous thing and an opportunity for an honest look into my own heart in order to see if the Jesus of the Red Letters is being authentically reflected there.

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