I remember May 2, 2011 very vividly. It was the day our television screens flooded with reports of well placed bullets and military raids that delivered to us a man-tyrant lifeless. The death of Osama Bin Laden. We cheered. We rejoiced. We sang songs of victory. We even praised God. The lingering terror of 9/11 had finally found it’s end ten years later at the hands of SEAL team Six and the barrel of a gun. Justice. Or was it? I remember celebrating over our war efforts. I am certain I knew no one who did not share in my relief and joy over those events. Honestly it felt like the first real progress that had been made since the travesty that had befallen our nation just shy of ten years prior. It was retribution. It was just. It was an eye for an eye.
I remember hearing cheers at my workplace. Announcements of our victory over the radio. More “God bless the U.S.As” than I could count. Facebook was littered with post for miles and miles about our nations joy and excitement that this threat had been eliminated. Posts that said things like “Rot in Hell” and “That is what you get when you mess with America!”. These sort of posts were deemed acceptable and completely encouraged. Posts were made by people of a largely diverse pool of backgrounds. Posts made from atheists and posts made by christians. Posts made by the rich and posts made by the poor. Our public display of patriotism and national valor knew no difference in race, religion, or the amount of money in our bank accounts. Like all wars this victory was catalyst for unity within our borders. We were celebrating and why not? Did we not have the right? Was this not justice?
I was right in the middle of my patriotic celebration, scrolling through the endless war cries of my neighbor’s, friend’s and families posts, when I felt something hinge in my being. What felt like a small shift at first quickly became what felt like a ton of bricks to the chest as the gentle voice of The Holy Spirit asked me “What right do you have in rejoicing over the death of any man?” My stomach dropped. My heart ached. I was not even sure how to process the gravity in His words. They shook me to my core. Those words not only challenged my world view, but also my view of God and His very nature.
I was quickly overcome by the reality that I was rejoicing over the murder of another human. I know, I know, I know! what you are thinking! Stay with me! I can hear plain as day the same questions rolling around on your toungue that were on mine that day. We will get there, I promise. The truth is that I failed to even grasp the full picture of the truth that was being unveiled to my heart and I ended the day disgusted with a church(and myself) that could celebrate a man most likely spending eternity void of God’s grace all the while still proclaiming we had the right to celebrate justice. In the coming months and years I learned that my justice and God’s justice were not really cohesive. That in fact an eye for an eye was not the way of the Kingdom.
To be continued….