Like all of you, I was stunned some days ago as I started soaking in the breaking news of Osama bin Laden’s capture and death via US military operations.
In the midst of a heavy traveling week, I didn’t have the time to blog about it but this past Sunday, I did a TV interview with King 5 News – a local Seattle news station about my thoughts about Osama bin Laden but specifically, how I reconcile the death of Osama bin Laden as a Christian and a pastor.
Honestly, I’m always reluctant to do interviews because when it’s all said and done, a good interview can be reduced to couple sentences. I learned this couple years ago when I chatted with the New York Times about my views about Mixed Martial Arts and Jesus. We had a phenomenal hour interview…which was reduced to one sentence for the article. Bummer.
So, I thought it would be good to share – in more depth- what I was try to communicate during my recent interview – just in case we get some angry emails and phone calls. So, here are some thoughts:
The reality of Evil
Perhaps one of the worst mistakes we can make in a plethora of worldviews and ideas is to forget the reality of evil and evildoers in our world; to forget even our own capacity for evil and our complicity towards evil.
Let’s not mince words: What Osama bin Laden did was evil. He was an evildoer. He was a ruthless terrorist and responsible for the deaths of thousands of lives. And the truth is he needed to be stopped.
And I am grateful that he was finally captured and if in the slightest way, hopeful that the world is a bit safer as a result of it.
Gratitude to our administration & military
In an ideal world, there would be no need for military forces. Peace would reign. Seattle would have more than 45 days of summer. The NBA would repent and return the Sonics to Seattle. I’d be tall…
But the reality is that we live in a world that’s far from perfect.
We live in a broken world and as such, we have the necessity of the military and while I hope and pray for a reduction in our military spending and prowess, I am grateful to President Obama and the military for its role in capturing Osama bin Laden. I express my gratitude to our military forces, their families, and those that have sacrificed so much.
Having said that, let’s bring our troops home from Afghanistan.
Role of State & Church
What folks often neglect to understand is that God instituted the function and roles of both Government and Church. While we’re called to work together on some levels, there are distinct things that each much do. For example, the government’s role is to govern, protect its people, etc. The Church has its role and as we’re called to be faithful in our calling to be Light and Salt of the world, our responsibility is not to engage in military wars.
So, as much as some Christians may want to protest the military, I understand its necessity and role. I just want to make sure we don’t glorify it. While we respect and pray for our government, we also commit to holding our government accountable as to not abuse its powers. So much can be said but let me stop there.
Celebration or Reflection?
While I can acknowledge and fully support the need to stop Osama bin Laden and express gratitude to President Obama (and President Bush) for his leadership in making this possible, it was the scenes of jubilant celebration that disturbed me immensely.
While I understand the feeling of “relief”, I can’t condone – as a Christian, the celebration of the death of a fellow human being – even if that person was a terrorist and “an enemy.” By celebrating death, we lose our sense of the sacredness and dignity of life. We become less of who God intended us to be.
Love your enemies
Christians are familiar with another Terrorist – albeit from another time in history.
His name was Saul and he was a persecutor of Christians. He was severely misguided and utterly convicted in his mission in killing Christians. But nevertheless, God had mercy on him and revealed the truth and grace of Christ. It is beyond our rational comprehension. No one is outside of God’s grace.
The government has its role and simultaneously, the Church has a role. While I don’t have any desire to switch roles, our responsibilities are also heavy and burdensome. We are called to even forgive and love our neighbors. I don’t interpret this for Christians to be doormats and allow others to harm you or your loved ones but nevertheless, we are called to forgive and love our neighbors; to believe and pray for the repentance of our enemies. I can’t think of a more difficult thing to do.
Trajectory of Peace
Ultimately, this is what I want to call us to.
We live in broken and fallen world but nevertheless, we believe in a God that created this world in beauty. Sin and rebellion enters into the human story but despite this sin, brokenness, and rebellion, we believe in a God that sent his son, Christ, to not only reconcile the world but to usher a Kingdom that will – one day – restore all things back unto Himself. God is on the move. God has a trajectory and this trajectory is to restore all things back unto Himself.
I have relief that we’ve stopped Osama bin Laden but I long for peace. I yearn for peace. I pray for peace. And I certainly await the day when God will restore all things.
But I don’t just want to wait, yearn, and pray for something, I want to participate – even in my small ways – in the trajectory of what I believe God has already put into motion. I want to call and invite others to live in the way of the peace: Blessed by the peacemakers.
Here’s the TV interview for those that want to check it out. Wished they could have captured the entire 20 minute sit down interview: