© 2011 John Casimir O'Keefe

death, grace and love

When Osama Bin Laden’s death was announced I, like so many people, had mixed emotions. On the one hand I was excited that a man who killed so many was now out of the picture.  Yet, on the other hand I was concerned that a human life was taken. But as time passes and I am able to process his death, I have been moving away from the human desire of excitement and find myself moving more towards my faith concerns over taking a human life.

I have been reading a great many articles from people I trust, and from some I do not trust, and they seem to have one thing in common – they’re all heading to the Jewish Scriptures as a way to justify their point of view.  I have been reading quotes from Proverbs, Psalms, Leviticus and other places that seem to support each author’s point of view – be that point of view pro or con. But here is where I have the problem, the Jewish Scripture (quoted the most) is a law based scripture and as such can best be viewed as a “pre-Christian legal book.”

As a follower of Christ, I’m not bound in any way to the Law of Moses – I am bound by the grace of Christ. You see, when we are bound by the law we always seek out loopholes that can help us make our case. When we are bound by laws we start with our point of view, and we search for laws to support that views – we seek to follow the “rule of law” and find case law to back-up our point of view. Then we take our findings to the “jury” (the public) to make our case and hope for what we see as a proper verdict.  Law, no matter how we try, can’t be tempered with grace because the law is written, grace is in the heart. The problem with the law is that it is the law, and we are called to live in grace.

The idea of grace in matters like the death of Bin Ladin cause many to abandon the teachings of Christ to search for support in the law, because the law is far easier than grace. When we make our case with law, we have facts (twisted or not) and the voice of authority (perceived or not) to make our point and convince others (the public) that our point (in this case death) is valid. Grace does not allow us to live in such a place. Grace causes us to express love and mercy, realities that are not part of law or our culture.

Living in the grace of Christ brings about some very hard questions. When we celebrate the death of an enemy, what does that say about us as people of Christ?  When we seek the law to justify our point of view, where do we place grace in the mix? When we seek justice, human justice, where are we placing God’s love for others? How is taking the life of an enemy, even for justice, loving them?

No matter how hard we try, law and justice can never take the place of grace and love.  Is it hard to view Bin Laden in such a place, a place of grace and love? Sure it is. I will be the first to admit it’s hard. But, being hard does not remove the reality that it is where we should be as followers of Christ.

One Comment

  1. Posted 2011/05/03 at 6:12 pm | #

    You summed it up really well. Thank you. I actually find these verses from Proverbs can also be applied here.
    “Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth: Lest the LORD see it, and it displease him, and he turn away his wrath from him. Fret not thyself because of evil men, neither be thou envious at the wicked; For there shall be no reward to the evil man; the candle of the wicked shall be put out. My son, fear thou the LORD and the king: and meddle not with them that are given to change: For their calamity shall rise suddenly; and who knoweth the ruin of them both? ”
    (Proverbs 24:17-22 KJV)

    I have struggled with this a lot. Since I was a 911 dispatcher working that day, and because of my 17 years working in EMS, it hit close to home. I lost many brothers and sisters that day, and it could have been any of us. I felt elation, sadness, avenged, all simultaneously. I thought, am I really rejoicing because another soul, created the same as me might be in hell?? That seems wrong…. Yet, I rejoice because he can’t be the leader of anymore hate and death… (it will still happen in his name I realize) Then I think, well he has had his chance to repent, if he didn’t then it is his own fault. If I go out and choose to murder someone, I do so knowing the consequence of being caught. He knew we would be after him, he knew he would eventually be caught and die. It was his choice. Whether he chose God before his death we will never know. Just my .02cents, and it is worth a lot less than that.. 😉

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