As I walked into class today, I was informed of something that made the class cheer in approval. As I turned on the radio, I heard that it was a good day. As I turned on the tv, I was forced to look at the face of a man who was supposed to bring me joy.
Normally a seminary class cheers when God has answered a long awaited prayer request. Usually my radio makes me feel good when my sports team wins or when one of my favorite songs comes on. Most of the time I rejoice when I look at the tv and see the hopes of the homeless being answered on Sunday nights on ABC.
However, today was not such a day. In fact, I might sound un-American, but that is not my biggest worry right now. Today a man was killed and millions rejoiced for that reason alone. Al-Zarqawi, the second greatest threat in the Eastern World, expired. No, I take that back, he died by means of two 500 pound bombs. Pardon me if I don't rejoice. Pardon me if I don't feel like singing praises to my God right now for upholding the cause of America. My veins don't bleed red, white and blue when my country's best news this year is found on a tv screen showing a dead man's face.
I have to admit that my ideas have changed in the past few years. Four years ago I would have thought this was a great thing, but as I am mastered more and more by Scripture and God's Kingdom, it becomes more difficult for war and fatalities to bring a smile to my face. The Kingdom of God asks different questions than how can we preserve our lives best in America. I have stopped pretending that God favors America any more than anyone else. I have stopped praying for God to bless America and start blessing the world.
Call it pacifism if you want. Call me a coward, but I don't think justice is served in retaliation and I don't think this endless string of violence will end with one more assassination of an Arab person (or Arab target as many call it). I don't have many answers, but I have a model to follow in all of this. Christ has taught me to follow his path down the road to the cross. I am called to turn the other cheek and pray for my enemies.
Sure, we need to uphold the cause of the oppressed and there may be justification somewhere in all of this, but surely we can hold our cheers when we hear of the loss of a person's life. We must mourn for those the terrorists murder, our troops and our enemies. I can't quite see Christ rejoicing in this news today.
The best news I heard tonight was from a father whose son was beheaded by al-Zarqawi a couple of years ago. Larry King interviewed him and asked him some volatile questions. He asked him if al-Zarqawi's death brought any closure. The father said (paraphrase), "No, any loss of life is a loss for all of humanity." King went on and on trying to get the father to admit some joy or relief in this death, but the father obstinately denied feeling any relief or vindication. Al-Zarqawi's death would not bring his son back and vengeance wasn't the answer.
Wow! What a testament. Perhaps we can learn from this father. I'm not sure what I really believe. I don't condone terror or rejoicing in the death of another person, but what do I do with with the murder of an unrepentant sinner? Is it ever right to condone and rejoice in the death of another? I need more time to reflect and think, but I'm not sure I can do this.
It was sickening to hear the applause of classmates today. It was gross to hear a radio personality claim victory in the death of another. It was appalling to continually see the face of a dead man on tv tonight. I am a part of the Kingdom of God. My goal is for all people to be transformed by the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. We must lay down our lives for the sake of others. We must share the good news with those easy to love and those difficult to love. In short, we must be Christ to a world in the midst of suffering, terror and murder. We must proclaim, "Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand!" not only to the Arabs but to ourselves when we condone acts of terror abroad and among our friends and relatives.
Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.