Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Explaining the hard things...with faith, hope and love

Yesterday I had to explain to Macy about the death of Osama Bin Laden.  It was hard because she had seen so many people on TV cheering for this man's death.  She didn't understand that.  And honestly, I didn't either.  I mean, come on.  He did some horrible, horrible things...but to cheer?  I don't know.  I had mixed emotions about the whole ordeal.  As an adult I know what he did.  It makes me sick at my stomach.  But her, she had no idea of the magnitude of his sins.  So, I explained it to her as best I could and she shrugged her shoulders and went on to Barbie land.  She has since forgot but me, its still on my mind. 

Today as I was looking at many blogs, emails, and other fun things on the WWW and I came across this great article from Relevant magazine.  I really thought it hit the nail on the head....but that's just my own little opinion.  Isn't that what blogging is all about?  :)  I really want my blog to be an encouraging place people can come.  I want my it to be fun and have people chuckle at some crazy story I might post.  I mean lets face it, my life can be quite comical at times.  But, with a tragedy like this I only want to encourage and give as much faith, hope and love for others as I can.

I have never read anything from Relevant Magazine so can't promote it, I just thought this article was good.  And I wish I could remember how I got to this particular article to give props to someone, but in my old age, I have forgotten.  oops.  So, thanks to someone for leading me to it...so, here it is...

Editor's note: The death of Osama bin Laden is a difficult paradox for Christians, which is why we asked Jonathan Merritt to unpack it. We think what he has to say is good and important, but we also know it's not the end of the conversation. So we ask that you weigh in with your thoughts on this world-changing event. We want to know what you think, too! We also ask that you write with grace and patience for your fellow comm enters.

The snuffing of Osama bin Laden’s life has left White House officials beaming, news reporters busy and the thumbs of Twitterers raw. I can’t blame any of them. After all, this is one of the biggest events of the last decade. When I got the call Sunday night and turned on the television, I could hardly believe it was true, even though it was in bold print across the bottom of the screen: “Bin Laden Killed by Navy Seals.” My heart leapt with joy.

But as the night rolled on and I watched the reports come in and then President Obama speak, I found myself flooded with twin emotions. On the one hand, I was elated that a man responsible for so many deaths was finally brought to justice. On the other hand, I was deeply saddened knowing that someone who by all accounts never confessed Christ had passed from life to death.

I began to question my reactions, asking myself which emotion was more appropriate, more Christian? Should I rejoice at bin Laden’s death ... or mourn it?

After the announcement was made that the world’s most infamous terrorist was indeed dead, the Twitter-sphere blew up. As many as 4,000 tweets per second posted to the social networking site—each one a 140-character reaction to an event that undoubtedly deserved more. For many Christians, it seemed they were not wrestling with how they should feel. Celebration was their clear choice.

Pastor Rick Warren sent out Proverbs 21:15, which says, "When justice is done, it brings joy to the righteous but terror to evildoers." Coincidentally, The Atlantic reported that Warren’s Scripture choice became the #3 most tweeted verse on this subject. Jordan Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice tweeted: “Crank this up as you celebrate the termination of bin Laden  http://youtu.be/Fk8IbcHf0Cs.

I admit that there's a part of me that wants to pump my fist, signal a flyover and spit on the dead man’s corpse. But is this an appropriate response for a Christian, to celebrate the death of the wicked? Or, to push it further, can a Christian ever celebrate the death of a non-believer?

I’m reminded of the words of Ezekiel: “As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live” (33:11, TNIV). The outcome that God desired and we should have too is that while Osama bin Laden was still breathing, he would have rejected doing any more evil and confessed Christ. This would have been cause for a true celebration—even the angels in heaven would have rejoiced (Luke 15:7). Anything short of this is a tragedy.

If nothing else, the propensity we feel to celebrate his death unveils the human tendency to want retributive justice for the sins of others but not for our own sins. Christians claim to believe all humans—yes, even Jesus-followers—deserve death (Romans 6:23). Justice demands such a penalty from each one of us. But we don’t want justice for ourselves; we want grace. Luckily, God has provided such grace through Christ.

“Rejoicing in the death of another, however wicked, involves forgetting the depths of our own depravity and the astonishing reality of our own salvation,” wrote Gideon Strauss of the Center for Public Justice in response to bin Laden’s death.

When a Christian points her finger in the face of the wicked getting what they deserve and shouts for joy, she is only revealing that she has forgotten her own need for grace. How can we celebrate God’s saving grace in our own lives on Sunday morning and celebrate retributive justice for others on Sunday evening? Is this not the ultimate hypocrisy?

And when justice is served to those who wish only to harm others—as it was last night—we may perhaps express relief. Relief in knowing innocent people woke up to a safer world this morning. But relief ... not celebration. God loves those innocents, and I believe He desires to see them free from fear and violence. Yet even as our spirits lift knowing that this man will do no more evil, our eyes should burst forth with weeping knowing that bin Laden will likely spend eternity like he spent his life: separated from the true God.

What do you think the Christian response is to bin Laden's death?

Jonathan Merritt is a faith and culture writer whose work has appeared in outlets such as USA Today, The Christian Science Monitor and CNN.com. He is author of Green Like God: Unlocking the Divine Plan for Our Planet.

So, what do you think about the whole ordeal?  I would LOVE to hear your comments.  I would love to know what you thought of the article.  How did you tell your children about the death that was ALL OVER the news?  It was so hard to shield them from it....would love to hear your views.  Pretty please, with a cherry on top?

"Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when they stumble, do not let your heart rejoice, or the LORD will see and disapprove and turn his wrath away from them. Do not fret because of evildoers or be envious of the wicked, for the evildoer has no future hope, and the lamp of the wicked will be snuffed out."
Proverbs 24:17-20



Lynn said...

Great thoughts! I, too, had a moment of celebrating and then stopped to think, "what am I doing"? The article pretty much summed up how I felt. Our country is built on a justice system. People used to be stoned, be-headed, and fed to the lions in Bible days.....our cowboy days were filled with hangings, and now death penalties are dealt out to punish those that we deem guilty. OBL purposely, pre-meditated, planned and carried out a horrible massacre of innocent people that was televised for us to watch in horror! I remember trying to explain that too! Had he been justly tried and and executed would we have a different mindset? God will judge him now. All that to say this.....I still don't know what I think. I am still fearful for our world. I am still wondering what other, maybe more evil person, was promoted upon OBL's death. I just hope everyone keeps praying for God to guide America...to stand beside us....and to protect us.

Heather's House said...

you are right mom! Loved your comment. I agree with the being fearful of our world right now. It's so scary and we need to be on our knees everynight for our country and the men and women protecting us.

Holly said...

So far Annelise is oblivious to all of these grim happenings and I'm totally letting her be. :) But I feel for you having to try to help Macy make sense of it!

I saw some of the footage of cheering etc. and it made me very uncomfortable--I mean it was a murder, not a sports event--and the chanting and celebrating just seemed wrong.

I worry about how our response was viewed by the rest of the world too and about retaliation.

But I'm proud of the SEALS and all the armed services and government officials across two administrations that worked to stop OBL. Was it justice? I don't know. Was it our place to avenge? I don't know.

Anyway...hard, hard topic with no easy answer.


Heather's House said...

I know Holly! It is so hard. I am glad Annelise didn't hear about it. I shouldn't keep my TV on all the time! haha! You are right...there is no easy answer. All we can do is pray. Hard!


Brooke said...

I haden't even brought up the subject to the kids. This afternoon I asked Amery if she had heard about OBL death. Her response, "who?" She had no clue. I told her I'd explain later. I'm big on an eye for an eye and had never thought anything but glad feelings that he was killed, but after reading the article it does make me stop and think.

Heather's House said...

Brooke...I know what you mean. When I first heard it I was glad...then I felt a little guilty. I just had such mixed emotions then I read that article and had a new outlook on the whole thing.

Anyway, glad Amery was clueless on it...its better that way! ha!

See you Friday. tap tap tap

silken said...

good article, thanks for sharing. you know....I haven't even asked my kids what they think of it....

I am so cynical though I am one of the ones thinking it was staged/set up/or not even real....but....no, I would not celebrate

Shelly said...

My sister pointed me to your post after reading similar thoughts at my blog here:

Thanks for posting this article. I really enjoyed reading it.

I didn't have a moment of celebration. Living where I do, I knew immediately what the response of the world to reactions in the US would be. I was on Skype with my friend in Singapore (being in China now) when I saw the news, and we both had a similar initial reaction — "this isn't going to go over well."

I was even more surprised later when I tuned into Facebook and saw the celebrations there, some of them being posted by people I know and love. It was hard to watch, and I didn't know what to say. One of my friends finally posted a note that said "No one's death should be this celebrated." I was glad to see it, because I just didn't know what to say.

Anyway, I appreciate your post. I think the discomfort we feel with the celebration is probably not a popular reaction where you are, and I am glad you were willing to post these thoughts for consideration. Where I am, pretty much everyone is (at best) puzzled by the reactions in the US — not only from the perspective of whether or not is really just/right/good to celebrate a death, but also from the perspective of pragmatism. The general consensus here is that this death, and especially the celebration of it, is likely to only make things worse.

I wish we could have just responded with a quiet dignity, but it seems that is something we don't value much.

Heather's House said...

Thank you so much Stacey and Shelly for stopping by my little ole blog! I appreciate and value your comments so much! Please come back. :)

Shelly said...

I sure will. I'm glad Stacey pointed it out to me!