Monday, May 2, 2011

So how should we feel? (some disjointed thoughts the morning after)

We hardly ever watch television at our house, especially on a Sunday evening, but last night my wife happened to click on Fox News. They were showing highlights of the royal wedding. I wasn't paying close attention until Geraldo Rivera broke in to say that the President was going to make a statement to the nation at 10:30. That's strange, I thought. I switched over to CNN and heard that it was regarding national security, but it wasn't about Libya. At that point, before the news started leaking out via social media and news outlets, I told Shannon my guess was that we had captured or killed Osama bin Laden. Was I right or was I right?

So how should we feel about last night's stunning and welcome news? In particular, how should Christians respond? Proverbs 24:17-18 warns: "Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles, lest the LORD see it and be displeased, and turn away his anger from him." Yet there are other proverbs that establish as a truism that a violent end awaits wicked and violent men, and Proverbs 21:15 says, "When justice is done, it is a joy to the righteous but terror to evildoers." I can't imagine any Christian not agreeing that justice was done in this case. We also see instances in Scripture of people rejoicing when enemies are defeated or brought to justice. Switching to the younger testament Paul's teaching in Romans 13 is worth quoting at length.

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. (verses 1 - 4)

I don't think it's a stretch to say that those splendidly trained Navy Seals were instruments of God's wrath on a wrongdoer named Osama bin Laden. I'm guessing he and the other residents of that compound felt some kind of wrath coming down on them as the helicopters descended. Terror too, I hope. In an operation, by the way, eerily similar to the Mogadishu operation chronicled in Black Hawk Down. Thankfully this one turned out much better.

I don't begrudge the celebrations in the streets or the headlines like the ones I posted below. If anyone has a right to be overly jubilant about bin Laden's demise it's the New Yorker's who lived through 9/11. I hope those who lost so much feel a sense of satisfaction today. Nevertheless, as Christians there's reason to temper our jubilation, for Scripture also reminds us that God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked (Ezekiel 18:23, 33:11). We also know that killing this one evil man doesn't guarantee our security, it might even stir up more hatred. As long as sin remains in the world there will be other mad men who seek to kill thousands in the name of demonic ideologies. We still wait for the complete justice and shalom that will come when the Lord returns.

One last thought. Hopefully everyone can set aside their political differences for a day (or two) and be proud of President Obama, his national security team, and the nameless men and women who planned and executed this audacious operation. This was a win for the United States of America. A big win. That's worth celebrating.

1 comment:

Derek Hickman said...

Great thoughts. I enthusiastically "ditto" this.