…even for a moment, even over one who has lived his life with the reputation and trail of devastation of a terrorist? My heart grieves as I read all the posts over the death of Osama bin Laden that express callous revelry. Hatred is hatred.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not in any way condoning the man’s behaviors or world view. But I am very much aware of just how easy it is for us humans to project the guilt and blame of our hidden secrets out on others who blatantly practice what we fear so deeply within ourselves. Truly, the evidence displays binLaden’s open hatred and disregard for the sanctity of life or justice or mercy. He openly practiced his disregard for life and his hatred of all that stood in opposition to him getting what he wanted.
But, really, when you get right down to it, is he so very different from the majority of people – from you and me? Truthfully, I have to admit to moments of hatred, or worse, apathy, to times of disregard of the value and worth of others, especially those with whom I struggle to find common ground. It is far easier to shrug off the necessary effort to reach out to others and work to understand where they’re coming from than it is to make the effort to remain present and curious and truly interested in others.
God does not rate sin. There are not bigger sins and littler sins. There is no self justification possible. And, there is no self righteousness. The only thing that brings us into right standing before God is the completed work of the Lord Jesus Christ. And the only thing that makes His completed work active in any individual here on this earth is faith. And the only way we can receive this life-changing faith is through the gift of His grace.
The audacity of the mercy of God! His forgiveness knows no human bounds. His forgiveness was declared once for all time in one short, agonizing human cry – “It is finished!” And yet, how often do we frail, forgetful people attempt to add to His sacrifice – often good things, well-meaning things, but done for so many wrong reasons.
“Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love…” Without faith – it is impossible to please God. Without hope – we are unable to see the unseen things of God. Without love – we are but a noisy gong, a clanging cymbal, nothing! “…and the greatest of these is love.” Am I willing for the love of God to flow through me to others – even to those who have been the most blinded by sin and evil, whose very lives terrorize others? “The LORD works righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed!” Am I willing to stand for God’s redemptive power in every life I encounter?
As a follower of Jesus Christ, I have another consideration that impacts my responses – the reality of spiritual warfare; there is a spiritual dimension that we can not readily see or comprehend or know in our natural, physical beings. I believe there is spiritual activity all around us at all times, that the angels who have sided with Almighty God are working on my behalf and on behalf of all who ever will choose God’s side against those fallen angels who sided with Lucifer, also known as Satan, and seek to destroy all that God created in this world – for God proclaimed it all good and pours out His love on us at all times.
But Satan hates and seeks to negate all expression of God’s love. And he continues to use the same tactic he used in the beginning with Adam and Eve – twisting the truth. He doesn’t outright deny truth, in fact he embellishes the truth and lures us into discussion over the impact of God’s truth in our lives. He starts with tickling our ears and seducing our appetites and finds the quickest way to lure our hearts away from God. Not an about-face, mind you. We would catch on to that. All he asks for is a glance, a question, just one little doubt about whether or not God is good all the time and truly has our best interest at heart.
Can’t you just hear the whispers and pleading of Satan still today? “Isn’t it the least bit possible that God is jealous and afraid of what might happen if you just knew about good and evil? You wouldn’t have to actually participate in it, if you could just know about it. If God really loves you so much, would He really allow you to suffer consequences for knowing something new? I mean after all, wouldn’t that just make you more like Him? And isn’t that what He really wants after all – for you to be just like Him? So surely that one little bite won’t really matter. Here, just smell it. Feel how smooth and sensuous it is to the touch. Listen to how it sounds as you tap it with your fingers, or just here, against the hollow of your cheeks. It is so beautiful and truly it is the only thing you lack. If you have this one thing, then you will truly be happy beyond your wildest imagination. If you plant the seeds inside, then you will become wealthy and everyone will come to you and know that you can give something that is lacking in their lives. That’ right, just one little taste. Surely this is really what God wants for you – your happiness, your pleasure, your ability to think it all out for yourself…”
The same old tricks. And they still work the same old way. Are you alert? Or are you ignorant or distracted and therefore open to his attack? So many fall for Satan’s tricks and take others down with them. Evil begets evil. The consequences of the lies and the harm and the birthing of hatred and vengeance and the blindness and inability to see the goodness of God grows from one generation to the next. Unless there is an intervention, the intercession of someone who will stand in the gap and share the love of God, the brokenness just grows and grows.
Who will stand in the gap? Who has seen and tasted of the Lord’s goodness and is willing to testify in the midst of the pain and the agony to those who have not? The price has been paid. We have been redeemed from the bondage of sin, from the darkness that is the absence of God’s light. We are being redeemed in every detail of our lives – for a purpose. That purpose is not so that we will live comfortably in unhindered abundance. That purpose is so that we will stand in the gap in prayer, in word, and in deed. We are called to proclaim the whole truth of God’s love in all it’s redeeming power!
The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me,
because the LORD has anointed me
to bring (to proclaim) good news to the poor;
he has sent me to bind up (to comfort) the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty (to proclaim freedom) to the captives (they will be released),
and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;(will be freed, release from darkness, Or the opening [of the eyes] to those who are blind; Septuagint and recovery of sight to the blind) to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor,
and the day of vengeance of our God;
to comfort all who mourn;
to grant to those who mourn in Zion—
to give them a beautiful headdress (crown of beauty) instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness (oil of joy, joyous blessing) instead of mourning,
the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; (garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair, festive praise instead of despair)
that they may be called oaks of righteousness,
the planting of the LORD, that he may be glorified. (the display of His splendor, for His own glory, that He may display His beauty!) Isaiah 61:1-3
And so, I ask again, will you let your heart grieve – even for those who are lost in the darkness, who are blind to the love of God, who are in bondage to evil and despair? If you will not, do you really the know the depth of God’s forgiveness for you? Do you seek to understand the depth of His love for you, for all His creation? Do you know, are you willing to understand the audacity of His mercy? Are you aware of the oppression that separates us from the love of God, especially in those who have suffered great harm and the distortion? Will you let your heart grieve for the oppressed?
And in the grieving, will you answer God’s call to bring, to proclaim, to release, to free, to open, to comfort, to grant, to give… joy to those who mourn – that He may display His beauty!!!