taking the words of Jesus seriously

This is a strange blog for me to write because I am sharing my immediate feelings about something I am experiencing right now. I know that good bloggers shouldn’t immediately put their feelings online but for some reason I feel I must do this tonight.

I guess this is a bit therapeutic for me to do as my heart is heavy and perhaps by writing my feelings down I will receive some form of healing. Then again maybe I won’t? In fact maybe I will get into trouble for being so honest with those of you who choose to read this blog. Either way I hope you don’t mind what I write.

You see tonight I was sitting alone in a simple little room located in a gorgeous Franciscan Monastery overlooking the Pacific Ocean in California. It has been a beautiful and soothing day. In fact at this moment a cool ocean breeze blows through my open window as the echo of a bird’s song echoes off the walls of my plain bedroom. Peace, stillness, all seems right in the world.

Then, all of a sudden, my tranquility was disturbed. Someone at the Monastery just approached me to tell me to go online and check out the latest news. Apparently, Osama bin Laden has just been killed by US soldiers in Pakistan. I quickly scrambled to my laptop to go online to CBC news and I found out that it is true! The architect of so much killing is now dead. As I quickly read the stories and watch the videos I can’t help but hear the words of Jesus ringing in my ears, for all who draw the sword will die by the sword.” (Matthew 26:52). Yes, bin Laden had it coming. He certainly was familiar of drawing the sword and now he was dead from the sword.

But what happens now? What will his death accomplish? More killing? More bloodshed? Reprisal and revenge through even more acts of terrorism?  In his life Osama bin Laden has changed the world possibly forever. I know it has impacted my country (Canada) in a deep way. The prospect of the terrorist violence he espoused transformed democratic, freedom loving nations like my own into becoming nations that are far too willing to cast aside our precious liberty and democratic rights. We have allowed ourselves to become paranoid of people sitting next to us on a plane because they look Arabic. That is not what Canada is supposed to be like.  We have allowed a line of division and suspicion grow between religions and cultures both locally, in my country, as well as abroad, in how my country perceives the rest of the world. Canada has become divided and it seems to be getting worse. We are no longer an accepting warm place to live in. We have become a colder, meaner country. The potential of terrorism now has a grip on us. What made my country great, its cherished values,  human rights and world – wide reputation as global peace keepers,  is now in tatters and we have Osama bin Laden to thank for this. Or, better stated, we have our own reaction to the evil of bin Laden to thank for all of this. As President George Bush stated after the tragic destruction of 9 – 11. he stated that whoever is not for us (America) is against us. He said that we are either with America or against America. There is no middle ground. And if there is no middle ground then there is only fear and loathing. Is that what we have become? A nation of paranoia and anger? If this is true our nation is in trouble.

One of the video clips I am watching online shows a large crowd gathering outside the White House in Washington D.C chanting, “USA! USA! USA!” Newspapers such as the one shown at the top of this post are rejoicing in his being sent to hell. Yet I can’t rejoice. Killing someone should never be  a cause of joyous celebration. Once again Jesus’ words echo in my mind, for all who draw the sword will die by the sword.” To me this is not a nation’s finest hour and I now feel an unsettled queasiness stirring inside of me as I watch such a bloodthirsty display of patriotic expression. Why would I not want to celebrate and chant about how great my country is to be part of killing Osama bin Laden? Why do I feel so sad? After all bin Laden was an evil man who was responsible for so much death. Why not rejoice over his demise like the hordes of people gathered in front of the White House front lawn? I guess it is because I see bin Laden in the smiling faces of all those people chanting USA! USA! USA! It seems to me that bin Laden and that gathering multitude of celebrants seem to have one thing in common. They both love to celebrate the same thing – killing! What is wrong with us? Why do we enjoy bloodshed so much? Could it be because bin Laden is in all of us?

This is a somber moment. It is a time for serious reflection not a reason to dance, sing and chant patriotic slogans. I am not justifying or defending Osama bin Laden. He got what he deserved. He drew his sword and now he is dead by the sword. But his bloody actions and our celebratory reaction to his death all point to the same problem inherit in all of us. We love death. Jesus knew this. He knew how we love to enact revenge and how revenge just continues to grow and grow into more and more bloodshed. Yes, bin Laden is in all of us. So remember, to all of us who delight in killing be careful, for as Jesus reminds us, “all who draw the sword will die by the sword.” Revenge never ends it only grows into more bloodshed, murder and mayhem. And in case some Christian brothers and sisters who are reading this blog disagree with me please consider the words found in the book of Proverbs,

“Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when he stumbles, do not let your heart rejoice.” – Proverbs 24:17

Rev. Colin McCartney is the founder of UrbanPromise Toronto and author of two best selling books: The Beautiful Disappointment and Red Letter Revolution (Castle Quay Publishers). He is also a mentor to pastors and business people and is in high demand as a speaker. Colin is married to Judith McCartney and has two children – Colin Junior and Victoria McCartney.

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