Recent comments by presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann have stirred up the discussion about gay marriage once again. While speaking to a group of high school…
Today, we’ve witnessed the death of yet another enemy of the United States, and the world in General. As I write this, the media outlets are exploding with the Grotesque pictures and videos of Moammar Gadhafi’s death. The celebrations are beginning. The firsts are pumping. The chanting is ringing out loud and clear. “USA! USA! USA!” Even within the American Church, rejoicing is evident. I just received an email from a pastor friend of mine who made it clear that his revelry had begun. “Good riddance, huh? Hope he ‘s enjoying Hell!” Again, i sit here and meditate on what is transpiring and to be honest, I’m deeply saddened and a bit ashamed. Not ashamed at America; but ashamed at the Church. I’m not necessarily saddened that Gadhafi is dead, but how Christ followers are reacting in this “Christian Nation”. And it causes me to ask the question: Is America a Christian Nation? And should it be considered such?
I fully anticipate much anger directed toward me on at the words I’m writing. But before the first stone is cast, let me begin by stating that within the world’s perspective, I feel that the death of Moammar Gaghafi is a good thing. Like most Americans, I detest anything or anyone that stands in the way of the human right of freedom. Gadhafi was a dictator and hindered the freedom that each and every Libyan deserves and is given to human beings by God. With a heavy heart, I mourn the death of the innocent people who have died because of his action; deliberate or inadvertently. I think about husbands, wives, mothers, fathers and children that have had their lives ripped apart because of the violence that has stemmed from his regime and ideologies. I mourn the loss of the soldiers that have died over the years, fighting for freedom and to end terror and violence in this world. I am proud of this country and thank God for the freedom I have each and every day; the same freedom I have to write this blog today. I love this country, but loving my country does not relieve me of the responsibility I have in choosing where my allegiance lies and what Kingdom I choose to serve. As a follower of Christ, it’s imperative that I chose to view these events from a different perspective: The Kingdom of God. That’s the outlet that my emotions must rise from and the lens that I chose to view the events we witness today.
So, with that said, and knowing my perspective, it shouldn’t shock anyone to know that I am mourning the death of Moammar Gadhafi. Like I said, I do believe that His death is a good thing and our world is safer from it, but I still mourn his death. From beginning to end, this man’s life and America’s association with him has been nothing to rejoice. The news we received today was simply the pinnacle of a long progression of war and death, and more than likely, not the end. But war and death are not something to celebrate. In the general scheme of things, the Kingdom of God has not been advanced one single inch by this man’s death. To be honest, from an eternal perspective, what has transpired doesn’t matter all that much. War is not a sporting event and as much as we want to believe it, Jesus is not on our team. He doesn’t rejoice at the death of Gadhafi and does not breathe a sigh of relief that America gained a few more points in the game. We don’t win.
What I do believe is that God is very much anticipating how each and every one of us is going to react today; not so much from an external perspective, but internal. What do our hearts really feel at this moment? What is the truth that will be taken from these events and what is God’s perspective on what has happened. That’s the perspective that the Church needs to choose to view this from. And a great deal of that perspective comes from Scripture. But before I refer to the words of Christ, let me address one particular perspective that I’ve seen some folks using as a defense.
Many people refer to some of the Old Testament examples of war, and how God seems to bless, approve and even rejoice in the victories of Israel. It appears that by looking at these many references, God endorses war and rejoices in the victories of war. I understand completely why some well intending Christians would use these examples as justification for America’s rejoicing today. However, as with anything in Scripture, it’s vitally imperative that we look at this from a proper perspective. The nation of Israel was God’s chosen people. This was the people who He chose to build this world through. These were the people who would begin the long progression of events that would bring Jesus Christ into this world and begin the eventual realization of the Kingdom of God coming to fruition. These were His people, His nation, His mission and in essence, His wars. In many ways, it was not the people of Israel fighting other nations, but God fighting through them to defend Himself, His honor, worship and glory. When Israel celebrated the death and victory from war, in many ways it was God celebrating and the people glorified God more than they did the nation. Israel celebrated in the Temple. We celebrate at Starbucks.
So, flash forward several hundred years. Things have changed. Messiah has come. Jesus has inaugurated the Kingdom of God and calls the people of Israel to start looking at things very differently. In essence, Rome was terrorizing and oppressing God’s people and they wanted nothing more than for a political and military Messiah to rise up and smack Rome on its ass. But instead, we start hearing things like, “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 children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:43-48) “But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.” (Matthew 5:39) “Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword.” (Matthew 26:52)
These are only three examples, but in the historical context of these references from the Gospel according to Matthew, Jesus is speaking to the Jews and more than likely referring to the Roman Empire. I guarantee you that these words were not easy for Jesus’ followers to hear. These teachings went against everything they felt, were taught and believed at that point, but Jesus was calling His followers, and all of us as well, to look at the world from a different perspective. To open our view of “kingdom” and “nation” to more than just the borders that surround us. To view brother and sister to include more than just those that we see each and every day. In essence, Jesus was calling us to view the world from His perspective and not ours. You won’t like hearing this, but God loved and created Moammar Gadhafi, longed for his salvation and knew the number of hairs on his head, just as he does for you and me. And that leaves me with a sobering thought. Would those that cheer his death, be the same one’s cheering his salvation? And how many of us actually prayed for his salvation over the years?
This does not diminish the death of the innocent that have lost their lives and does not take away from the fact that Gadhafi’s death is somehow justified. Like I said before, in reality, it is a good thing that he is gone and if you were to ask me if I am glad, in a deep dark place in my heart, I have to admit that I am. My first reaction to the news was excitement and the urge to celebrate. But after taking a few steps back, and asking myself the cliché’ question, “What would Jesus do?”, for the life of me, and as hard as I try, I cannot imagine Him standing next to those celebrating and chanting, “USA! USA! USA!”