I am troubled. I wasn’t going to say anything until I read this on twitter:
“The cheering crowds remind us that justice is glorious & comes ultimately through Jesus cross or hell. Justice wins” – @PastorMark (Mark Driscoll)
This reaction, the encouragement of celebration over the loss of life from a Christian leader is troubling to me. As I watched Twitter light up last night I was horrified. I saw thirst for revenge. I saw calls for violence. I saw these things and wondered where Christ was in all of this. Rejoicing at death does not seem right. No matter how we feel about a person, rejoicing in their death does not seem to be something God would endorse as God does not delight in the death of the wicked.
“Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign LORD. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?” Ezekiel 18:23
This is not to say I don’t have feelings about this event. I remember watching the towers fall. My heart sunk as I thought of the people lost inside. My heart aches today for those who are left behind. I understand wanting justice. I understand wanting resolution. But the feelings I’ve read tonight go beyond that. There is vengeance and hate, and it’s being said in the name of God. We believe God is with us. Yet I as I sit here trying to determine where God is in all of this I am reminded of a section from Joshua (5:13-14) where Joshua encounters a messenger from the Lord.
“Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked,“Are you for us or for our enemies?” “Neither,” he replied, “but as commander of the army of the LORD I have now come.”
The Lord is not for us or against us. The Lord is for humanity. Last week we gathered together to celebrate the sacrifice Jesus made to save us from ourselves. When we look at Jesus’ life can we honestly say he would have rejoiced in Bin Laden’s death? He might have understood it, he might have seen the justice, but I don’t think he would have rejoiced.
There are times when we must stand up and fight for the innocent. When we have to defend ourselves and others against injustice. I don’t deny that. But there are no winners in war. Historians may argue differently but can we honestly look back and say there are true winners? The loss of life, of innocence, the economic devastation and the chaos that ensues ensure both sides are affected for a long time following. No one really wins.
So how are we to respond to this? How are we to process our feelings? What comes next? God tells us how to live. God requires us “…To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8) and that is what we should all strive to do.
So we respond with mercy. We respond as humble followers. We respond with just actions. We respond as Christ would have lived, we pray.