Sunday, 01 May 2011
As I write this the twitterverse, facebook, news stations, and general U.S. public is buzzing about the reported death of a well known terrorist named Osama Bin Laden. To many this death means justice is being served, that the United states is the hero of the world, and/or that the war on terrorism is a good idea. I'd disagree with about all of these things. However, I'm not writing this to debate those issues. I have one simple message right now for Christians.
We are to be a people of love who imitate Jesus Christ. Jesus loved all people so much that he died for all of them, wiping away their sins, calling them his children. He forgave all evildoers as they tortured and killed him. During the greatest of injustices he suffered and exampled perfect love, asking God to forgive those evildoers. In his teachings he told us to emulate our Father in heaven who is faithful to the wicked and the righteous, causing his rain and sun to fall upon both. He sent his son for all the sinners of the world. The public sinners, the private sinners, the violent sinners, the sexual sinners, the mental sinners. He did this in an effort to bring all people to him. He wanted all people, all sinners, all wicked men and women, to repent and join his kingdom. He gave us Jesus, the "Way", so that we would have unity with him.
That is what love looks like. In the book of Ezekiel God speaks to his people and twice makes it clear that he does not delight int he death of the wicked because his true desire is for them to change their ways and join him in his way. Ezekiel 18:23, 33:11. The second states, "...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!..." Jesus commands us to forgive others nonstop. Paul instructs the Romans to never seek or invest in revenge but to be people of love who bless others and do good to their enemies. THIS is a huge aspect of the Christian life. The Christian is defined by love.
So when men like Osama Bin Laden die we should not celebrate their death (or killing/murder/whatever) but mourn for someone died without repentance (as far as we know). That is worth our mourning. That is worth sadness. If we are people of love then someone dying outside of love should touch us deeply and not cause us to throw our arms in the air rejoicing. The fact that people, even Christians, rejoice in the death of other men proves that this world is broken, sinful, fallen, and in need of true redemption. We know that God will judge all and justice will come to pass but right now, for us, mercy, compassion, grace, forgiveness, blessings, and love are our focus, duty, and supreme pleasure. Let us not get caught up in the "victory" of the United States (which is no victory at all to those of us who know the love and salvation of God, the meaningless of nations and the value of every human being who is created int he image of God) but let us mourn the sadness that penetrates the kingdom of heaven as a brother sleeps in sin and may not enjoy eternity with us and with God. How could we celebrate such a tragedy? Let us not think that bombs have brought redemption and justice but instead let us remember that redemption and justice was already brought in the greatest of ways through Jesus Christ dying on the cross, as a weak and seemingly defeated criminal. Violence is not the hero. Christ is the hero. Love wins, it never fails.
This death is not the depiction of God's justice. The cross is that portrait. This death will unite us in mourning and love or in revenge and hate. We can not be a people who support endeavors which consist of top priorities such as killing a particular man. We must support evangelistic and gospel-oriented endeavors that have goals of converting men into repentance. Our military belongs to heaven and not a specific nation. The terrorism we stand against is not made of flesh and blood but of powers and principalities. We must have a gospel based view of reality and no lesser view.
Therefore, let us invest in love, mourning this day, not celebrating the ways of violence and shallow justice. Let us align ourselves with the God who does not delight in the death of wicked men but desires that all men come to him and may he be a part of drawing others near. Today we can do that with how we approach this popular death. We can pray for the middle east and what may come as a result of this death. We can pray for all the people in various militaries that they find safety. We can set an example by mourning and speaking love. We can do many things to distance ourselves from hate, revenge, nationalism, and all the evil things that are floating around in our society at this very moment. It was once said that Christians are the reason the good flows on in this world. Let us live in such a way that this may still be true even if we are accused of loving too much.
Proverbs 24:17, "Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when they stumble, do not let your heart rejoice"
How do you feel about the death of Osama Bin Ladin? Do you think God is happy that he is dead? How should Christians react to this moment in a way that will accurately reflect the love, compassion and message of Jesus Christ?