Well, it has been a week since the (apparent) killing of Osama BIn Laden. The day I learned of it, I was deeply saddened by the attitudes of many Christians online. If I'm being honest, I was also quite embarrassed to be an American that day. Here in Africa, we are interacting with many people from around the world. For people to see the parties that "we" threw and the celebrations we had over the murder of an evil man, made us feel a sense of shame and deep disappointment.
I know that this post will not be popular, but here's where I am today. I intentionally prayed and waited one week to share any thoughts. But I feel that the Lord wants me to offer my perspective to those that care to read it.
I am afraid that many Americans have developed political theology, not Biblical theology. Somehow they've justified a heart of hate in the name of national loyalty and pride while failing to look at the Bible to shape their beliefs.
Here is a snapshot (not the full picture) of what I believe:
- Do not celebrate when your enemy falls or rejoice when they stumble. (Proverbs 24:17)
- Take no joy in the death of the wicked, rather hope that they turn from their wicked ways and live. (Ezekiel 33:11)
- Greater love has no one that this, that he lay down his life for a friend. (John 15:13)
- People will know we are followers of Jesus by our love. (John 13:35)
- Love your enemies. Let me repeat, love your enemies! The world says hate your enemies. Jesus says that we are to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. Not kill those that persecute you. (Matthew 5)
- Bless those that harm you and leave revenge and consequence to God.
Here is the clincher for me. I believe that Jesus is the final revelation of the nature and heart of our God. Yes, the Old Testament is full of violent stories that you may choose to draw out as proof texts to support something like the murder of Osama Bin Laden, or war for that matter. But, unless and until I am convinced otherwise, I am choosing to live my life and order my theology according to the life, teachings and example of Jesus Christ. He, I believe, is the final and ultimate revelation of God. He is my savior who has redeemed me, forgiven me and died for me. I will do all that I can do follow his lead and love my enemies as well. You can argue with me all you want, but this seems to be where I find the peace of the Holy Spirit and find rest in my soul.
Additionally, if I subscribe to some of the hateful stuff I see oozing out of the Kingdoms of this world, I lose the thrilling chance to be a part of the Upside-down, totally-radical, earth-shaking Kingdom that God wants to build. Why would I leave the heart of this awesome kingdom to sign up for one that is far inferior and far less thrilling in every way?!
Finally, I cannot...absolutely cannot....read the New Testament and conclude that if I love radically...that one day the Lord will look at me and say: "Noah, you should have loved less and killed more"! Thus, as of today, I choose love even when it hurts, to love when it is hard, and yes, to love even when I want to blow his brains out as badly as you may! I choose to say no to my way, and yes to the way of Jesus...the way of love. Oh, and by the way, this INCLUDES loving those of you that hate what I just wrote here. Letter the rubber meet the road.
As many of you know, we are serving at All Nation in Cape Town, South Africa. Our leader is Floyd McClung. Floyd is a well known missional leader and author. Here are some of Floyd's thoughts on the matter.
I believe the death of Osama bin Laden brings a righteous measure of comfort to the families who lost loved ones on 9/11 because the mastermind who caused so much loss and pain and the face of global terror can no longer spread his evil.
There is a place in God's ways for evil to be opposed with just force. But there is no place for American triumphalism. Our nation's need for humility and repentance remains unchanged. Sacrificing our children's lives on the altar of convenience, greed, injustice, pride, and moral perversion are constant reminders of our deep need of God.
Our greatest enemy is not a singular terrorist or Muslims in general, but our own rebellion and separation from God. Our greatest need is not more might or power, but humble dependence on the forgiveness of God for our sins. Our greatest challenge is not more faith in America's greatness, but fearless courage to share the good news of God's mercy revealed in the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ on our behalf.