What If

ifIt’s a good time for America to pause and reflect for just a bit.  You see, this country is at a point where we have successfully eliminated yet another person on our national list of those we hate and fear the most.  Our military strength drove back Hitler to a point where he took his own life.  We survived Stalin and the communist threat of the cold war.  We shattered the dictatorship of Sadam Hussein and saw him hanged.  And now we hear that Bin Laden has been killed.  And so America is forced to once again search for our next most hated and feared person.  Yes, we really should stop and reflect for a little bit before selecting our next great enemy.

You see, I was rather surprised by a handful of people I know who posted status updates or tweets with messages declaring satisfaction at the thought of Bin Laden now being in Hell—and this from people who believe in God, go to church, and know their Bible.  It leaves me wondering.  How should we—as Christians—be reacting and thinking about the killing of our enemies?  How should we feel about this?

And so it leaves me wondering.  What if God delights in condemning people to hell the way we do?  What if Jesus never said, “Father, forgive them; they don’t know what they are doing.”  What if the thief on the cross next to Jesus had been denied paradise because he was just too evil?  What if people like Hitler, Stalin, Hussein, and Bin Laden accepted Christ before death?  What if we see them someday in heaven?  What if grace is not big enough to cover the “really bad” people, but only run-of-the-mill sinners like us?

Although the Psalmists often begged God to trample and destroy their enemies; although God announces his just and right judgments against the nations; I do not see God as delighting in having to condemn those he has created.  In fact, I will venture a guess and say that I think it makes God sad whenever his righteous judgment against sin sends his creation to perish.

It seems to me that the proper reaction we should have to the killing of our enemies is sadness.  It’s sad that we live in a world so broken by sin that we need to kill one another in order to feel safe ourselves.  It’s sad that we live in a world where destroying human life—created by God in his image—becomes the only course of action we can take.  It’s sad that we live with such hatred and fear.

What if we all started seeing people the way God sees us?  What if we all took the advice of Jesus in Matthew 5 – “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.”  What if?

till next time…

~pastor tom