Serving a God of Death

I had just gotten back to Minneapolis when I was told I should turn on the television because Obama was set to make a big announcement. So I turned it on and at the bottom of the screen, I was told the breaking news that Osama Bin Laden had been killed.

And I felt like I was going to puke.

Then I hopped on Facebook and Twitter and saw some tacky nationalistic and religious platitudes. And I wanted to throw up more.

I think identity plays a big role in this. If Bin Laden was “our” enemy, who exactly is the “we”? It’s not communities of faith. It’s not Christians. It’s not the church. It’s the United States of America. One part of my identity is that I’m American. So one part of me sees Bin Laden as an enemy and is thankful that he will not be able to cause any more destruction.

But then there is another part of me that could never see death as something to be celebrated (at least as belligerently as it was last night), no matter who it is that has died. When we attempt to redeem death by inflicting more death, we’re not bringing about the kingdom of God. We’re participating in what J.R. Daniel Kirk calls an “economy of death”.  Death only begets more death. This is not the vision of the kingdom of God. In fact, it stands in diametric opposition to the Kingdom of God.

Our way out of this, our salvation, will never come by a smoking gun. It will never come by anger or vengeance. But only when we are ready to do as Jesus commands in Matthew: “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous.”

We’re all in the same boat trying to make sense of the same things. So instead of dancing on the graves of murderers, why don’t we look forward for the life that’s found in the God who calls us out of judgment and darkness and into an abundance in the Kingdom of Life that is to come.


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