Monday, May 2, 2011

Feeling a Bit Torn

It's not often that I feel the need to justify my feelings/beliefs prior to laying out an issue, but I feel this one demands it. I know at least a few of the people who read what I write on here, and I KNOW you will mostly be offended by what I say this time. Truth is, this is not an easy issue for me to take a stand on either side of it. I truly am torn here, but I find myself siding with hope in a Big God who can do HUGE things.

I also need to say another thing as far as how I read the Bible. I indeed believe in the 100% truth of the Bible as God's Word. That includes both the old and new testaments. That said, I believe the New Testament supersedes the Old Testament as our foundation for living. If you want to argue that, fine. Just know I take Jesus at His words when he says "you heard it was said…but I tell you…" Seems like to me Jesus intended to supersede the Law. Paul also indicates this all through Romans, as does the author of Hebrews.

Last point of justification before getting to it: I am first a Christian, second a husband, third a father, and then (maybe fourth) an American. The interesting thing in that list is the only one that is NOT by my own choice is my nationality. That comes simply due to the fact that my parents lived here when I was born. So, my national pride (which is actually pretty darn strong) is a far cry from being as important as those other three items in the list of what/who I am. Over and above all of those things in that list is this: I am a human being, created in God's image just the same as all other human beings.

Ok, enough with all of that. Here it is. I am literally sad and depressed right now watching and listening to the reactions to the news that Bin Laden has been killed. I am thrilled for the people who lost friends and family on 9/11 and for all of the military who have sacrificed their lives (not just those who have died, but all of them) that they have some closure and a feeling of justice perhaps. But to celebrate this event, the death of a human being, I just cannot join in with that. I go back to something a said a while ago, as a Christian, I am supposed to love even my enemies. You can't tell me that if I love my enemy that I will jump for joy and sing songs when I hear they have been killed.

And what types of things does the Bible say about this? Well, in the Old Testament (hmm, odd I should start there), I think we hear God say vengeance is His (Deut. 32:35). Then listen to what Paul says about that exact verse in Romans 12:19-21, "Friends, do not avenge yourselves; instead leave room for His wrath." Really, the last verse in that Romans text is even better, "Do not be conquered by evil, but conquer evil with good." As always, when you read verse 21 in context, it clearly promotes a loving, grace-filled response to those who do us wrong. Sadly, I think our current celebratory reaction, and I am sure the justifications for that response are also going to be rooted in this same verse taken OUT of context where it can be altered to seem that the "good people should destroy the evil people." This just isn't what the text says.

As hard as this is to hear, or believe, every single person on this earth is created with the image of God in them. Even those people on whom we ascribe evil, even they possess that image. I believe that God can and does call the worst of people to Him. The apostle Paul is probably the best example of that. Paul himself points out how evil he was before God got a hold of him. And now, we consider him as one of, if not the greatest Christian in history. So, even if you find yourself happy and celebrator about the killing of another human being made in God's image, think of how much better you would feel if that same person miraculously fell in love with our creator God through the love of Christians, of Christ. We have taken that hope of another lost soul being found and reunited with the creator and killed it with this action. My belief is that in a Christian view, this killing of hope, this taking of vengeance on our own is not in line with a Christ follower's calling. For this reason, I am glad only in this: I am much more saddened by lost hope for another saved soul than I am happy in the death of a terrorist.