This week I have been reminded just how imperfect and limited my love for humanity really is. I do not even come close to loving the way Jesus loves… not even in the same universe. That is kind of a harsh way to start a blog isn’t it? Here’s what happened… Someone was killed this week, and I was really happy about it. That’s right, this person died, violently… not to mention the fact that he was hopelessly lost and I believe will now spend eternity in hell, separated from God… But in my books that’s okay, because this person is on my naughty list…. He was the personification of evil for western civilization in this generation… Previous generations had their Hitler, or Stalin, or Pol Pot, then there’s this guy… you get the picture.
Of course, as you may have guessed, that someone was named Usama bin Laden… and admit it, just hearing the name changes the dynamics of the first paragraph doesn’t it. You are now prepared to console me… to let me know that in this case it is okay that I have no love in my heart and no regret for his demise. Maybe you even feel the same as I. You may feel it is okay that I have felt no grief over a soul headed down the broad road to hell.
Don’t get me wrong, I know all the right and just rationale for my feelings…. He deserved what he got… absolutely, I agree. He made his own bed, one of violence, and brought this on himself: absolutely! The ideology he embraced will not embrace America, no matter how bin Laden was buried or what is done with the photos… lets face it. Our silly appeasement attempts are foolish and misguided.
Also, I should admit, that I even had a thought of envy… I would have liked to be the Navy Seal who had the task of putting bin Laden out of the world’s misery, or vice versa… (growing up in a military family as I did, we sometimes have such thoughts, and I think this is deservedly a very proud moment for our wonderful military).
So you ask, what is my problem….why my hesitation about my response, or rather my attitude about bin Laden’s death? Why can’t I just keep celebrating and smiling? The answer may not be what you think… not the usual political or ideological objections to the violence or shooting an unarmed person… this was the world’s most wanted terrorist who got exactly what he deserved. I think my uneasiness with myself is this…
I am not just a patriotic American… I am something else as well. In fact, I aspire to be something else first and foremost: I am a citizen of another Kingdom. And my King, whose name is Jesus, created and loves humanity… even the despicable parts of humanity, in such a deep and radical way that he prayed for the very ones who were beating, shaming, cursing and crucifying Him. He didn’t care what we deserved, He wanted to give us something better, something called agape, unconditional love. This radical love came to me as a gift (grace) because what I deserve is the cruel execution that was placed upon Him.
Is it okay for me to look past the obligations of my primary citizenship in my first Kingdom? (you remember those annoying little things Jesus demanded of us in Matthew 5:44f … Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…” or Paul’s words in Romans 12 “Bless those who persecute you, do not curse… do not take revenge… if your enemy is hungry, feed him…” etc.) Do I get a pass… a green light from above to hate those who hate me? I am guessing that I do not.
God… I need your help… Show me how to love the worst, ugliest and most grotesque aspects of humanity… such as myself.
And the truth shall set you free…