Several have asked about how our identity as Christians might inform our reaction to the death of Bin Laden.
A friend reminded me of Proverbs 24:17: “Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when they stumble, do not let your heart rejoice.” How might that wisdom inform our reactions?
There is a certain release, a sense that right has prevailed, whenever a criminal who has held the public in fear has been captured. Perhaps it is right for us to respond with thanksgiving at such times because there is one less predator in our midst who seeks to destroy life that God has given. If that is correct, then our thanksgivings are for the restoration of the order that makes charitable life together possible, even if that restoration is sure to be disrupted when the next predator arises among us. Order is a means of grace, and surely we are right to give thanks whenever we sense that it has been restored even momentarily.
Perhaps, however, the proverb reminds us that what we call retributive justice is not to be celebrated. Perhaps that is because our instances of retributive justice Inherently witness to the fact of our continued rebellion against God, and so we rightly lament each instance just as we do when we gaze upon the ashes of Jerusalem as we depart for exile in Babylon. Jerusalem's ashes indict us all for our own daily rejection of grace - which takes myriad individual and collective forms - as much as they do those directly responsible for its destruction. So events of retributive justice aren't causes for celebration so much as they are causes for lamentation for the human condition from which they arise.
In contrast, divine justice is revealed on the Cross; it leads always to reconciliation, reunion, and resurrection; it is life-giving. We rightly celebrate our participation in or encounter with that kind of Easter justice because it witnesses to our choice for life with God, and our participation in God's mission.
Wed, May 4, 2011
by Craig Uffman filed under