On Sunday, May 1, I heard the news that Osama bin Laden was dead, assassinated by the United Stated government/military. Folks in the U.S. rejoiced in the streets. To be honest, I even felt a sense of "he got what he deserved." I mean this dude did some pretty awful stuff. But here's what I don't get.... Some churches (people who follow the teachings of Jesus and are called to advance the Kingdom of God) took part in the celebration and even attributed the success of the assassination to God. Wait, what?
Dear God. Thanks for killing that motherf**ker. Love, the Church.
Here are a few comments and tweets from churches and pastors (I don't pretend to be a real news site and my intent is not to call out specific people or churches, so I've decided not to cite these quotes):
- "... it was good and right for the US government to seek [bin Laden], find him, and kill him. ... this is an instance when [the US government] fulfilled its God-given purpose."
- "Some tweets suggest we should feel guilty being happy about this, but I don't...."
- "The cheering crowds remind us that justice is glorious & comes ultimately through Jesus' cross or hell. Justice wins."
If people who attend church are happy bin Laden is dead, I get that. People feel how people feel. But when church leaders suggest that there is some sort of "divine happiness" over his—or anyone's—death, it seems to bastardize everything Jesus stands for. Is Jesus really throwing a party because he finally served justice to bin Laden by working through the U.S. government to kill him? The same Jesus who allowed himself to be crucified by his enemies?
I recently finished a series of Easter designs where I read through the gospels accounts of Jesus' death and resurrection. Based on that, I can't see him celebrating the death of anyone, much less a death caused by violence. In fact, during the story of Jesus' death and resurrection, there are some people who celebrate and rally around the murder of someone, but they are not portrayed as being Christ-like at all.
I feel like I can't trust my feelings
When you look at this design, it may not feel true. Honestly, it doesn't feel true to me either. But guess what? I don't get to decide whether it's true or not. In Jeremiah 31:3, God says "I have loved you with an everlasting love." In John 3:16, Jesus says that "God so loved the world..." The Bible is full of passages that paint God as loving people indiscriminately. If those passages apply to me and you, don't they apply to everyone? I mean it's not like we can just choose who God loves, right? If I believe the Bible, I have to believe this design is true—whether or not I feel it.
I'm not saying I've got this down. I'm just saying that, through Jesus, I know what God calls me to, and every time I fall short of that call, there is no excuse or justification. Instead I need to ask for forgiveness, fix my eyes on Jesus and ask him to continue to help me see the world through his love instead of through my judgement.
Hate bin Laden? Fine. Glad he's dead? I feel you on that. But do you believe—not feel—that God loves him with an everlasting love? Because that is true, whether we like it or not.