Nearly ten years ago, while Americans wept over the September 11th attacks on the United States, news crews in Palestine showed men and women dancing in the streets as they chanted, “Death to the USA!” At the time, I remember how amazed I was at such a calloused response by a people. However, last night it was our turn. After President Obama announced that Osama Bin Laden had been killed by U.S. military forces, men and women took to the streets outside of the White House and they chanted, “Nah, nah, nah, nah, hey, hey, hey, goodbye” and “USA, USA, USA!”
As I watched this reaction, I immediately recalled the words of the Lord when he said, “As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live…” (Ezekiel 33:11). In light of the Lord’s eternal perspective, you decide if such dancing in the streets is appropriate.
Consider some additional thoughts.
- I am not opposed to justice. I am not a pacifist. God gives government authority to execute wrath upon evil-doers (Romans 13). Bin Laden was guilty of crimes worthy of death. I support the USA in their military action.
- I have a dual citizenship. I am a citizen of the USA and a citizen of Heaven. I have loyalties to both. I have a deep sense of nationalism that runs through me, but I must continually keep in check the priorities of my citizenships. I am first and foremost a citizen of Heaven. Never do I want to lose sight of my Heavenly citizenship and its agenda as I pursue a temporal agenda of my national citizenship.
- I also am well aware of the many imprecatory psalms and statements sprinkled throughout the Old and New Testaments. These statements invite calamity upon those who oppose God. However, I believe that these imprecatory statements have to be interpreted in light of divine justice and a pursuit of God’s divine agenda. The chants of “USA, USA, USA” betray the purpose of the rejoicing that was taking place in the streets. These people were not celebrating because gone was one who stood in opposition to God. They weren’t celebrating because they saw this as a great step forward for God’s kingdom. They were celebrating, not because they are children of God, but because they are Americans. To apply the imprecatory statements of the Bible to nationalism rather than God’s divine agenda, is a misuse and misunderstanding of these statements.
I would simply suggest that before we take to the streets in celebration, we remember who we are. We are the people of God who have been given the task of reaching the lost. While I defend the right of government to enforce capital punishments, I don’t defend speaking and behaving in such a way that when such actions are required, that I alienate those who I am trying to reach with the gospel.
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