Monday, May 2, 2011

WWJD

This isn’t going to be a pretty, well-thought-out post. I’m processing, just like everyone else is tonight…

“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. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” - Matthew 5:43-48

‎"Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when he stumbles, do not let your heart rejoice." - Proverbs 24:17

‎"Do you think I like to see wicked people die?" Declares the Lord, "Of course not! I want them to turn from their wicked ways and live." - Ezekiel 18:23


A couple of hours ago news broke that the United States had killed Osama Bin Laden and “taken custody of his body”. And the world rejoiced.

Facebook erupted with comments…jokes…”towel-head” remarks…and several posts taking others to task for celebrating someone’s death.

I fell into that last category.

Yesterday, it was announced that NATO forces had attacked Muammar Gaddafi. Gaddafi himself wasn’t killed, but his son was. And his son’s three children were. That last bit about the children barely got a mention in the news. No one made a big deal about that. Three children were killed…three children who didn’t have a choice who they were born to and had nothing to do with their parents actions…and no one seemed to care.

Tonight there’s rejoicing outside of the White House at the news of Osama Bin Laden’s death.

Many of those I know who are rejoicing are Christians. Christ followers. Disciples of the man who instructed us to turn the other cheek and pray for those who persecute us.

Obviously this is a complicated issue. I’m one of the very first people to say that what’s good/right for Christianity may not necessarily be good/right for the country. I don’t believe America is “a Christian nation” – we’re a nation whose people are free to be Christians. So, the nation’s responsibility is to do what’s right for the nation…not what’s right for Christianity.

Obviously my real issue here is with Christians.

Was Osama Bin Laden a bad guy? Yup. Awful? Sure. Did he deserve to die? I guess so. But if we’re using God’s righteousness as a measuring stick…you and I are bad and deserve to die, too.

If you haven’t given up on me yet, let me go ahead and state that I am NOT anti-American and I do NOT mean ANY disrespect to our servicemen/women or those who lost their lives on 9/11.

9/11 was a horrible day. Nothing but a tragedy for everyone involved. And our armed forces are made up of brave people who deserve our utmost respect and admiration.

I understand that the laws/norms/whatever of our society dictate that America retaliate for what happened on 9/11. But I cannot wrap my head around a follower of Christ ever being behind any war. Jesus not only told us to turn the other cheek and to pray for our enemies…he also told us NOT to kill people. His father, God almighty, told people not to kill anyone thousands of years before Christ, even.

Many of my Christian friends have talked tonight about all of the lives that were taken by Osama Bin Laden and his forces. About all of the American lives lost. What no one seems to talk much about is the thousands of lives lost in other countries as America has pursued Osama.

One source I saw tonight said those lives lost came to an estimated 50,000 in Afghanistan, 1.6 million in Iraq, and 320 in Pakistan.

Does that make us even? Does it bring justice? President Obama said tonight that with the death of Osama Bin Laden, “Justice has been done”. (With the death of one man, justice has been done. I guess all of those others were “collateral damage”.)

But, I ask, how? How has justice been done?

Justice is defined as “the quality of being just; righteousness; equitableness; or moral rightness.”

Former President George W. Bush tonight talked about the phone call he received from President Obama: “This momentous achievement marks a victory for America, for people who seek peace around the world, and for all those who lost loved ones on September 11, 2001.”

The death of a man is an “achievement”? How is this “victory”? What did we win?

President Obama tonight talked about the families of those 3,000 people killed on 9/11 and how they ached for their loved ones. That is a valid point. And my heart breaks for those people who died senselessly and their families who were left behind.

But did anything that happened today validate, vindicate, avenge, or whatever else those 3,000 deaths?

I just see it as a horrible cycle.

They attacked us. What do we have? A lot of tragic, senseless deaths. We attacked them back. What do we have? A WHOLE BUNCH of dead people on both sides. And what is different?

That’s what I’m not sure those folks celebrating outside the White House realize: this isn’t over. Terrorism won’t stop tomorrow. The sun’s going to come up in America and Pakistan tomorrow and bad guys the world over are still going to do bad things.

From a strictly practical standpoint, a guy like Osama Bin Laden (who supposedly considered death in battle the ultimate victory) doesn’t seem like someone not to have a back-up plan, “just in case”.

I’m probably rambling now. This is a heavy night…and I’m going to trust you see what I’m saying.

Maybe these words can better say what I’m trying to get at. This is text from the “Adopt A Terrorist For Prayer” website (www.atfp.org), an official ministry that seeks Christians to pray for terrorists:

“Where is the Christian response to terrorism? If the struggle against violence done in the name of Islam is primarily spiritual, then defeating it requires a spiritual response.

This site features FBI and State Department identified terrorists and terrorism sponsors. Terrorism inspires fear. According to Jesus, the antidote to fear is love.

When we hate, we are reactive victims. When we love we seize the initiative. Love for country helps soldiers to risk their lives. Love for children enables parents to discipline them without being intimidated. Love for us took Jesus to the cross. Love for enemies will give courage to face, overcome, and transform them and the environment that breeds them.

Historically, Stephen was the first fatality in terrorism directed against Jesus' followers. As Stephen died from stoning, he prayed, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them." Later, Paul, who had supervised Stephen's stoning, met Jesus in a vision and repented.

Can we pray today like Stephen prayed then? Would Paul have repented if Stephen hadn't prayed?”


I’m not saying Osama Bin Laden wasn’t bad. I’m not saying he shouldn’t be punished. I’m just asking, what’s it all for? My heart aches in seeing people celebrate over the death of a man. It seems misguided.

What did it accomplish? What’s going to be different?

Is the war over? Will our boys and girls come home tomorrow? Will terrorism stop? Will religious differences stop leading to conflict? What’s it all for? It’s just another guy dead.

In closing, here are the words of one of my favorite songs from one of my greatest heroes, the prophet, Kris Kristofferson:

“In The News”
Read about the sorry way he done somebody's daughter
Chained her to a heavy thing and threw her in the water
And she sank into the darkness with their baby son inside her
A little piece of truth and beauty died

Burning up the atmosphere and cutting down the trees
The billion dollar bombing of a nation on it's knees
Anyone not marching to their tune they call it treason
Everyone says God is on his side

See the lightning, hear the cries
Of the wounded in a world in Holy war
Mortal thunder from the skies
Killing everything they say they're fighting for

Broken babies, broken homes
Broken-hearted people dying everyday
How'd this happen, what went wrong
Don't blame God, I swear to God I heard him say

"Not in my name, not on my ground
I want nothing but the ending of the war
No more killing, or it's over
And the mystery won't matter anymore"

Broken dreamers, broken rules
Broken-hearted people just like me and you
We are children of the stars
Don't blame God, I swear to God he's crying too

Hating terrorists is easy. Not hating them is tough. Praying for them is even tougher. But didn't Jesus always want us to do what is hard?

Another of my heroes, punk rock prophet Joe Strummer, once said, "The world is worth fighting for". Not fighting in the physical sense. But righteously fighting. Against hate. Against darkness.

Let's not give up. Let's not give in to hate.


2 comments:

  1. I was definitely surprised by how fast everyone came out with their comments on this. It's good to hear truth spoke into this situation.

    ReplyDelete