Celebration

by MitchellRichards

One should know that I am probably the least political person you know. So while this entry may contain political words, names, and phrases, it is not a political message. It is not proclaiming cheers for one side or another, nor is it celebrating death or a government in any way. It is a conflicted message if anything, because that is how I have felt today, very conflicted.

As you know, last night came the announcement that Osama bin Laden had been killed. Reading updates on Twitter and Facebook, I have felt very conflicted with this knowledge. Not for fear of attacks, or whether or not it was really bin Laden, and not with the claims and accusations of our President being one thing or another; I’ll leave you to discuss those things. What conflicts me is the message of the world and the message of the Kingdom.

I understand that as Americans, we stand for and demand justice. It makes sense. I get it. But as a citizen of another world, another Kingdom, I believe there is a better way. I am conflicted, and maybe really for the first time in my life, because our Leader is telling us to not only forgive our enemies, but to love them as well. A Leader who tells us that things like revenge are not the way of the Kingdom. A Leader that says that an eye for an eye doesn’t work.

So I am curious to what we are all celebrating here? Death? Justice? The American way? For starters, there is a difference between justice and vengeance. For some reason though, the news of all of this saddened me in some way. I do not know why, and I do not think I will do too much soul searching in order to find out. I am not trying to be poignant here, but I believe I am saddened because we have killed a poster-boy for our anger over the last 10 years since 9/11, and that someone will replace the face on the top of that list, and the cycle will continue. Whatever we are celebrating, I am positive that it is not the way of the Kingdom.

And as Jesus tells us to forgive our enemies, I wonder, “How do we forgive someone like that? Someone who is responsible for the killing and death of our own people?” And to that question, I do not have the answer. But I know that it is possible. If grace alone can capture the heart of a wretch like me, it can forgive the heart of anyone else. Period. End of statement.

So as a country, we will celebrate. But as a Kingdom, we will mourn. And there is my conflict.

I believe that another way is possible, and as Indian activist Arndhati Roy said, “Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.”

As Christ followers and Kingdom people, we are called to stand up and be different. To mourn the things God would mourn, and celebrate the things God would celebrate. I understand that we ourselves did not go to Pakistan and kill anyone, but the way we handle ourselves when governments and people do, defines which kingdom we belong to; a kingdom or the Kingdom. It does not make sense for us as Americans to not celebrate what is happening, but it also does not make sense for us as Kingdom inhabitants to celebrate what is happening.

I went to go visit my grandfather in a hospital room in Nebraska just a few weeks ago. I sat in a chair at his bedside and all I could think about was how I wanted sickness to be a thing of the past. My little nephew had some health problems a couple weeks ago, and in my tears all I could think about was a groaning for a time when sickness would be a thing of the past. And now, in what many are calling our country’s finest achievement in a long time, I am groaning for a time when war and retaliation are a thing of the past.

And I do believe that day is coming. And on quiet days, I can hear her breathing.

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