Monday, October 24, 2011

Hearts of Darkness

A couple of days ago, the world learned of the death of Muamar Ghaddafi. To most in the international community this news was met with gladness, celebration and for some, jubilation. 

Others have written about redemptive violence and the culture of violence in which we live.  This isn't something I would care to go into, for now. 

However, the question I am concerned with is this - How are we, as Christians, called to react to this kind of news? 

In an attempt to answer this question, I'd like to post a blog I wrote for my old Tumbl-blog, shortly after the death of Osama Bin Ladin. 

from Whatever I Tramwell Please, the Tumbl-blog. 

Osama Bin Laden has been killed.  I came in from lunch and was met with this news minutes before teaching.  My emotional compass was disturbed, and for a moment, I couldn’t quite figure out which way it was pointing.  Whatever my initial response, it was electric.  It felt good.  It felt exciting.  Waves of relief, patriotism and the excitement of watching a really good drama play out rolled through my consciousness.
 I say excitement, but I wasn’t happy.  
As I said, I wasn’t sure how to feel. 
Once things finally settled, after I finished class and had time to think it over, while reading the multitudes of status updates and microblogs that were filling my newsfeeds, I ended up settling into an emotional zone somewhere between relief, disappointment and sadness.  
I bet that’s not what you expected to hear. 
You see, to me, while this ending was relieving, it wasn’t satisfying.  It wasn’t a happy ending.  
I don’t rejoice in the death of human beings. 
A human being died today. 
Actually, according to the Population Reference Bureau (2010 stats), approximately 156,000 people will die today.  
One hundred fifty-six thousand human beings will die today.  Nearly two people die every second.  One hundred and eight people die, every minute.  
The trouble with this statistic is that it is an average.  It’s a nameless, faceless average.  We can, to some extent, know that some of them are dying in wars, many are dying of old age, a large number are dying of disease.  A huge population of them are dying in Africa, India and South Eastern Asia.  
I cannot know the eternal destination of 156,000 nameless, statistical people.  
I’m 99% sure about one of them, though.  
It is most likely, that Osama Bin Laden has left this earth and is bound for Hell.  
To me…that’s a tragedy, and I will not rejoice in the eternal damnation of any man.  
He had it coming, though!  He deserved it!”
He does deserve it.  
So do I.
So do you.  

All our hearts are filled with darkness.
Christian, do you realize this?  
You deserve it, too.  
It is by grace you have been saved.  
It is by grace you’re not a killer…a thief…a pedophile.  It’s only because of God’s mercy in your life that you haven’t been so eaten up by sin that you’re not a mass murderer.  
He deserved it…yes, but who are you to rejoice in it?  
Yes, justice needed to be done.  
“It is mine to avenge; I will repay. In due time their foot will slip; their day of disaster is near and their doom rushes upon them.”  -Deuteronomy 32:35
Am I saying that I don’t think he should have been hunted down and brought to justice?  
No. I am not.
Who am I to say what a political nation does with its military or on whom it should declare war?   
However, I can tell you what Jesus has said”
 ”Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you.” (Mt. 5:44)
And in the book of Proverbs, God says: 
“Do not rejoice when you’re enemy falls; when they stumble, do not let your heart rejoice, or the LORD will see and disapprove…”  (24:17-18)
A good ending would have been Osama Bin Laden becoming a Christian, turning himself in to the authorities, repenting of his sins and sharing with the world, at his trial, the truth of the Gospel, the power of redemption and the freedom that is found not in a flag, not in a constitution, not at the barrel of a gun, not in wealth, strength or power…but the freedom that is found in Jesus Christ, alone, to the glory of God the Father.  
That would have been something to rejoice over. 

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