Monday, May 2, 2011

Do not rejoice...

Last night, Chris and I were watching the Apprentice. I hate to even admit that on the world wide web. I didn't *mean* to watch it. Seriously. Chris just happened to turn it on as I was getting up to go to bed and I Just about the time that Nene was about to shove her boot up Star Jones' bottom, the TV switched to breaking news: President Obama was going to make an important announcement from the White House. Chris and I mused over the possibilities, while mourning the loss of the Nene and Star footage. Maybe we were going to war with Libya. Maybe good ol' Barack was gay. Maybe he was resigning. MAYBE, just maybe-- he was resigning so he could replace Steve Carrell on The Office, surmised Chris. (You know-- cause "being the President is too hard-- [that's what she said].")

Obviously none of those scenarios was the case. And as the news of Osama Bin Laden's death went viral, I found myself wondering how I should feel about this. How should I react? Surely, an immense amount of pride in our military-- coupled with a slight distaste on the back of my tongue at the way the President seemed to take credit for this feat. Surely, a reminder of the evil, evil nature of this terrorist, coupled with the thought that he got what he deserved.

But then the camera panned outside of the White House to an impromptu parade on Washington Avenue-- people yelling and jumping and dancing and singing "We are the champions" and chanting, "USA!!! USA!! USA!!!" Later, I watched as jokes about Bin Laden and photo-shopped cartoons of him appeared on facebook. And truly-- it's funny. I laughed at them (like someone commenting about Osama's last fb update: "someone at the door--brb." Come on. That's funny stuff.) But largely, as a whole, as a nation... I began to wonder-- is this really the appropriate response? To joke? To celebrate death? Even the death of an evil man?

A friend posted this Scripture on her facebook, and it was a timely reminder for me: "Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles." (Proverbs 24v17) Why not? This man was directly responsible for the death of thousands of innocent Americans; he was indirectly responsible for the death of tens of thousands of our military men and women as they pursued him in the war on terror. If we should rejoice in anyone's death, it would be this man! But even God-- who has the most right of anyone to be offended by this man's actions-- doesn't rejoice. As Ezekiel 33v11 says, "'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.'"

I can't laugh because it's not funny. War sucks. It is ugly and gut-wrenching and awful. And even if we are the ones who come out on the top, there's really no winner in the end. We're all losers. I can't rejoice... because this man-- this wretched, sinful man-- wasted his life on something he believed was the truth. Just like the fictional Calormenes who threw their devotion at the feet of a donkey for the love of Tashlan, this man was utterly, despicably blind--giving his life away to hatred and violence and extreme-ism-- because he thought that's what his God required of him. He's not the first, and it's certainly not merely his particular religious leanings that make him guilty of this atrocity; Christians have been killing and hating in the name of Jesus for centuries.

I'm still trying to process this... what it means for America, for Islam, for the precious families who lost so much at the hands of this man. I guess this is what I want to take away from it: I want to *get* it. I consider myself a religious person, but I don't want to be religious in the way that Bin Laden was religious. I want to know the heart of Jesus. I want my heart to break for the things that break His heart. I want to follow not just the letter of His law, but the stirrings of His soul. I don't want to spend my life following what I believe to be real Christianity, only to find out that I missed the spirit of it. I read an article today about how some Muslims are angry about the way that Bin Laden's burial at sea was handled, saying that it wasn't truly done with Islamic custom in mind. Really? 'Cause I'm not so sure Allah's gonna overlook the blood of three thousand innocents just because Osama's head is pointed toward Mecca. I don't want to rely on the proper burial rites, or the requisite church membership. I want to know God.

My heart hurts for this whole situation. I am intensely proud to call myself an American, intensely proud of our Navy Seals. Seriously-- those men are no joke, and I am grateful for their sacrifices. But I am saddened by the state of our broken world... that it comes down to us hunting each other down, hating each other, killing each other. And while God is still on His throne, this is not the way it was supposed to be. My heart yearns for heaven; come, Lord Jesus. Come.