“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.” ~Ezekiel 33:11
I knew it the moment I watched the first images late last night of the crowds in front of the White House and in Times Square boisterously celebrating the death of Osama bin Laden. I knew it this morning when the news programs showed us image after image of young men and women waving flags and singing songs on their city streets and campus squares. I knew it when I drove my girls to school and listened to the talk show hosts discussing what they would have done to bin Laden’s body had they been in charge. And I realized it when I started seeing the forwarded emails. From Christians.
I’ve known all day today that this is not how Christians behave. We do not celebrate the death of a human being made in the image of God and loved by our Father. No matter how ruthless and vile Bin Laden may be, we love our enemies. We pray for our enemies and their families. We do good things for our enemies.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.” ~Matthew 5:43-45
God’s children do not dance and rejoice in the death of anyone. It’s decidedly un-Christ-like. To join in the worldly celebration of the death of a man who did not know our God is to deny our Christ and his Gospel. After all, our Lord died for us (you and me) while we (you and me) were his enemies. That’s the part I’ve not been able to understand today: doesn’t whooping and hollering and taking great joy and pleasure in the death of another human being deny just about everything Scripture teaches us about the nature and the will of our Father? Does it not oppose the clear commands from our Lord?
“Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” ~Luke 6:27-28
It is good today to grieve anew with the families of those who lost dear friends and relatives in the violent attacks orchestrated by this man. It is proper to mourn the loss of soldiers and civilians who’ve been trapped in the middle of the on-going conflict. It’s OK to acknowledge God’s sovereign use of nations and armies to enact his justice. It is right today to join the faithful lament of the prophets and the groaning of the martyred souls under the altar and cry out to our God, “How long?!? How much longer are you going to allow this to continue?!? When will you finally put all things to right?!?” Today is a day for prayer. Reflection. Meditation. Thanksgiving. Mixed feelings. It’s not a day for dancing in the streets.
I’ve known all along that if I were to blog today about the way I’m feeling, I would be criticized. I’ve known that if I preach this Sunday on what the Scriptures say about the death of this terrorist, I might be fired. So, instead, I chose this morning to blog about God expecting more out of the people he’s blessed with his good gifts and matchless grace; about God requiring more out of his children; about God demanding more from the people he’s saved; about how that verse in Luke 12:48 is the very thing that pushed me over the top and compelled me to ditch sports radio and start preaching the Good News.
Please forgive me. I, too, have denied my Lord today.
Peace (not as the world gives peace),