When Push Comes to Shove


Editor’s note: The following appeared on John Stumbo’s blog shortly after news of Osama bin Laden’s capture broke. John’s words are a timely admonishment regarding the believer’s response to the rise and fall of evil in our world.

I don’t usually weigh in on these issues. I may regret doing so on this one. Yet, as I watch the News Special Report tonight, a few thoughts arise within me.

By the observations that follow, I mean no dishonor to the troops who serve our country. Please don’t misread my cautionary statements as a discredit to their sacrifice. The heroism of those who carried out this mission—and the countless ones that preceded it—has been honorable, legendary and movie-worthy. As I listen to tonight’s broadcast, I have three cautions for Christ-followers.

First, I’m hearing the word “jubilation” and its synonyms repeatedly used. As I type these words, fireworks are lighting the night sky out my picture window. An instant crowd has gathered outside the White House to celebrate. The newscaster announces, “This is a moment of triumph. This is a moment of celebration.”

I must simply ask: When the Almighty God instructed or conducted acts of retribution, was it ever with “jubilation”? Perhaps, I’m overlooking a Scripture that points us in that direction, but in my memory, it “grieved” God to flood this world with judgment. The cleansing work had to be done, but it was not joyful work. Should it ever be?

I’m doubtful that this night calls for joyous celebration. I am certain it calls for prayer. An international worker, i.e., a “missionary,” will likely be targeted as a result of tonight’s news. A church—shining the light of Christ somewhere in this dark world—may become a target as well. The action of taking a life for a life rarely knows how, when or where to stop. Please pray that those who serve Christ in dark places will have special protection and great wisdom in these days. Pray that neither fear within nor enemies without will overpower them.

Second, I’m also hearing the word “justification.” The grieving family members of the 9/11 events, the newscasters imply, can now experience a new measure of healing.

I grieve over the senseless loss of life caused by bin Laden’s suicidal followers. The atrocities he masterminded were historic. Make no mistake about my opinion; bin Laden deserved to die. Justice must be, and has been, served.

Yet, the Scripture has a very strange and more powerful word for those who seek healing for their terrorized souls: forgiveness. This radical concept, typically misunderstood, is the only true route to soul healing. Those who hope that a judge’s sentence or a gun’s bullet will aid that healing misunderstand the human soul.

It is appropriate for our nation—especially those who lost loved ones because of this man—to breathe a sigh of relief. I would simply caution us from attempting to make this event more than that.

Last, and perhaps least, I’m hearing “job preservation.” Our president no doubt acted wisely and in our nation’s best interests. I don’t doubt that his leadership, as our nation’s top military commander, was vital to this mission. I congratulate him for doing his job and doing it well. I just wish that someday, somewhere, a leader could arise—whether conservative, liberal or moderate—who doesn’t need to use every victory for political gain. I may never find such leadership in Washington, D.C., but I do hope we will find it in Christ’s Church.

One final thought:

The Lord Bishop of London, in delivering the wedding sermon to the royal couple, announced that we are in “a century that is full of promise and peril.”

His words, I believe, were fast-forwarded by tonight’s events. Promise and peril, good news amidst danger, a sense of justice served while delivering a false sense of true healing, a president fighting for our protection while he fights to keep his own job, a nation determined to stamp out terrorism while it slaughters its own unborn. Promise and peril, indeed.

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