“Are you for us or for our enemies”?

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.

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11 responses to ““Are you for us or for our enemies”?

  1. Becky, thank you, thank you for writing this. To say that my emotions are conflicted upon hearing the news of Osama’s death is an understatemtent. On the one hand, I’m incredibly proud of our troops. And, my humanity cries out for justice. Yet, I’ve been very unsettled by reactions I’ve been seeing by people on the news and by posts I’ve been reading this morning on my facebook page. To rejoice at the death of another human being seems wrong. As much as it pains me to accept, Jesus died for Osama bin Laden too.

  2. P.S. – I linked up to your post via my facebook page and on my blog. I really wanted to share your thoughts with others.

    • Karen, I feel conflicted about it too. There is a sense of relief that comes with the news but the reactions have moved beyond relief and justice into something much different.

      Thank you for reading and sharing my post. I’m glad you found it helpful.

  3. Good job. You have shown a very mature response. My wife and I had the same talk this morning.

  4. Pingback: “Are you for us or for our enemies”? (via From Ministry to Motherhood) | Change is Never Ending

  5. You have clearly expressed what I was thinking. I too remember the images of the planes flying into the towers. The passage I preached on the Sunday after 9-11 was the one where Jesus goes looking for the lost sheep…. It was an act of mercy for all people, especially those lost in sin, even if they flew a plane into a tower …. it is for people such as this, such as us that Jesus came.

  6. Very well put. You wrote all the feelings I have gone through since I heard the news last night. Thank you

  7. Spot on for those of us wrestling with the conflicting notions of vengeance and mercy. I too felt unsettled about the “celebrations” of his death….it doesn’t seem quite right – yet, I rejoice in the victory of truimph over evil. It’s a complicated emotion for all of us who remember that awful day when our world changed. I hope that we will spend as much money, and seek as diligently for peace; as we have done for war. But I fear that there will be more battles ahead – and War does not change the hearts and minds of men: only the Saviour can do that.

  8. I read this proverb (24:17-18) a couple days ago, so it was fresh in my mind. “Rejoice not when your enemy falls, and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles or is overthrown. Lest the Lord see it and it be evil in His eyes and displease Him, and He turn away His wrath from him [to expend it upon you, the worse offender.]” Verses 19 and 20 finish on that theme, about fretting not because of evildoers…there shall be no reward for the evil man…

  9. Pingback: A thank you… | From Ministry to Motherhood

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