I was about to go to bed last night when I saw that the president was going to be speaking shortly. So much for sleep. As I listened to the commentaries and watched the celebrations, my thoughts went in many different directions. As I reflect on those thoughts, I realize they come from two very different, occasionally conflicting roles: Citizen and Christian.
As a Citizen, I'm glad that bin Laden is no longer able to encourage terrorism. This feels like justice long delayed for a nation still dealing with the aftermath of 9-11. I'm in awe of the military personnel who went deep into a foreign country to carry out this operation, keeping casualties to a minimum--even after the failure of one of their helicopters. I'm grateful for their courage and skills. In the midst of those good thoughts, I also have fears as a citizen: What will the backlash be from bin Laden's supporters? Will this aid their recruitment efforts? Will this weaken al-Qaida, or be a rallying point that will strengthen it? What effects will this have on the political scene? Will it weaken the contention that the President is weak on terrorism? Will it cause politicians to set aside the rhetoric and petty issues to come work together for the good of our country? These are just a few of the thoughts churning through my mind as I ponder the implications of this operation for our country and the world.
Then there are my thoughts as a Christian. Where do I begin? I'm remembering what happened in the Garden of Gethsemane on the night of Jesus' arrest. From the 26th chapter of Matthew: 51 Suddenly, one of those with Jesus put his hand on his sword, drew it, and struck the slave of the high priest, cutting off his ear. 52 Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place; for all who take the sword will perish by the sword."
How do we, as Christians, justify killing someone? What message does this give to those who aren't Christians? What happened to turn the other cheek? What happened to forgive, and judge not? As a Christian, I cannot celebrate the killing of bin Laden. On the cross, Jesus offered words of forgiveness to the ones who had hung him there. I don't see anything in the Gospel that justifies what was done yesterday. Yes, there are some things in the Old Testament that might seem to justify it, but we claim the Gospel. We claim a very different way of life. We have taken the sword, and I fear we will now perish by the sword. What I see ahead is more death, and more suffering. Even if it is the end of al-Qaida, that doesn't make it right. As Christians, we're called to a life of service. We follow the Prince of Peace.