A man died yesterday as his body was torn by bullets. Quite likely, he died with a curse on his lips, as he attempted to do what he had done for all of his life; send more of his enemies to their graves in the name of his false god. One man died. And, a whole nation rejoiced.
A sinner went to his grave, never to repent, never to know the grace of a loving God. And, it seems to me that as he entered the gates of Hell, going to eternal torment, many of the very people who should have been saddened at the state in which he died, exulted in his annihilation.
As I sat down to write last night, I struggled with my feelings, believing that I could keep quiet about this and it would pass. I have spent the day listening to and reading comments from family and friends, only to come to the conclusion that my heart knew the truth, but I was unwilling to expose it to you, unsure of how many of you would react if I made anything approaching a “political” statement. This is anything but political. It is the very core of who I am, what my faith has made me. Tomorrow perhaps, I’ll write a light, funny essay. Not tonight.
For tonight, I’ll try to keep it short, but I want to say this as clearly as I know how. I am convinced that Osama Bin Laden had to die. There was no alternative. His reign of terror has turned the world upside down. The repercussions will be felt for generations, perhaps centuries (if we’re still here) to come. A capture and public trial could only serve to further inflame the hatred and increase the atrocities which have been committed at his behest and in his name. My head knows this and is content that his death was inevitable. Our God assures us that evildoers will die.
That said, my heart tells me that we have lost a huge part of ourselves yesterday and today. My first thought, as I watched the crowds dancing in the street last night, both at the White House and at Ground Zero in NYC, was of the thousands who danced with delight in the streets of many Middle Eastern cities on September 11, 2001. We also danced, not because justice had been done, but because the vengeance in our hearts was satisfied. You don’t believe it? Go back and listen to the sound track of the video. “Na na na-na, Na na na-na, Hey hey, Goodbye!” Is that the sound of justice? Read the posts in the social media today. Were they of justice and the sigh of relief at the knowledge that a murderer was no longer free to wreak his havoc? Or, were they of unbridled pleasure that a man was dead? Really most sincerely dead? Just like the Wicked Witch, bereft of humanity, of a soul. “Ding dong, the witch is dead…”
Do I offend? I don’t mean to. I am pointing the finger at myself, knowing who I am; knowing my reaction at the news last night. I am aware of my joy, my elation as I heard the story unfold. I am as much a part of those mobs as if I was there, singing and rejoicing at a sinner’s entrance into Hell. The evil man got what was coming to him! Those were just as much my thoughts and feelings as anyone else in the world.
But, I am convinced that our God (the same One who declares that the evildoer must die), takes no joy in any sinner’s entrance into Hell. His love speaks against my hatred, my vengeful spirit. “While we (all of us) were still sinners, Christ died for us.” We have all been His enemies. Every one of us deserved annihilation, but instead were offered life.
I pray that we will recover. I pray that we will learn. I pray that we will love our enemies with His unrelenting love. If we fail, we lose.
“Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord God, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live?”
“For I do not take pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord God; so turn, and live.”
(Ezekiel 18:23, 32)