Bible for Thinkers

Liberals love the Bible, too. We just look at it differently. This is a place to discuss the Bible where you don't have to check your brain at the door. There are many ways to see it, and many ways to have it come to life.

Saturday, June 10, 2006


I haven't posted the SpiritWalkers devotion here for a couple of weeks, but I've still been doing them. Head to my website if you want to catch up with that. I'm just back from a conference and this is the first chance I've had to express my disgust at how we celebrate death. I don't mean the celebration of life at funerals. I mean Al-Zarqawi and others like him.

Not that I want to minimize for a minute the horrors he has inflicted on others, and I admit to a sense of relief in knowing he is no longer in the world plotting harm to innocents. But after the initial flush of relief, I knew I couldn't turn on the television for days because people would be gloating and rejoicing in his death.

I just don't believe that God ever rejoices over the loss of a life. In the case of an Al-Zarqawi or Hitler or Bundy, I think God grieves deeply for a life gone terribly wrong...for a soul that could not accept the love God had for him or her. But I don't think God is ever pleased that the chances for turning that life around have ended.

It's easy to glide by the little book of Obadiah. It only has one chapter with 21 verses. But verse 12 speaks volumes to this, I think: "But you should not have gloated over your brother on the day of his misfortune; you should not have rejoiced over the people of Judah on the day of their ruin; you should not have boasted on the day of distress." It goes on like that for another couple of verses, but you get the point.

Yes, Zarqawi gloated over the brutal deaths of others. So do we sink to that level? Aren't we trying to be part of the Kingdom of God rather than the Kingdom of this world? Why do we cheer the death of anyone made in God's image? Well, I shouldn't say that. I know why. It's perfectly understandable, especially for those who have been directly affected, like the family of Nick Berg and others.

But still, I think Jesus calls us to the hard and narrow road of mourning even the deaths of our enemies. God gave each of them gifts to be used in the world for good. They refused and put those gifts to evil purpose. That is something to be grieved...both for them and for the world. We are lesser for it. I also mourn the fact that we could not provide a circumstance that could change their hearts...or help prevent those hearts from becoming hard in the first place. When an innocent babe grows to become a ruthless killer, society has failed. Communities of faith have failed. And I mourn our failure as well as the soul that was lost.


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