I need to confess that I'm more of a hypocritical pacifist, meaning that in theory I believe we should live and model the life of Jesus even to the point of death and dying on whatever cross life may bring us. But in reality if someone were to mess with my wife, children, friends or family, I would probably throw off any ideals of right and wrong in order to seek revenge (only I would dress it up as justice). And many, if not all of my friends and family, would try to convince me that revenge is not the way and that it would not bring the closure I needed. This is what I was told in elementary school, junior high school, and high school while sitting in the principles office after my latest bout. I was continuously taught that when another person did something wrong I was to report it to a teacher who would then carry out a mini-trial to administer justice. At what point do the lessons we teach our children need to be re-taught to us as adults? I'm afraid that at the core of our need for justice by vengeance is that we do not want to be out done or "outgunned." We need the victory or even more God needs the victory! But does our idea of victory and God's look the same? Think about this for a moment: John the Baptist was beheaded, Jesus died on a cross, 1o of the original disciples were martyred/killed, John was supposedly stuck on an island, and Paul also was martyred. Does this seem victorious?
But something happened in their suffering, in their death. People were transformed and inspired to carry forth a message that proclaimed God has been victorious! Central to Jesus' idea of the gospel forgiveness through the denial of self. Central to Paul's idea of carrying forth the gospel was suffering, not vengeance. The hope of the gospel is the restoration of creation, a world with no evil, no wickedness, and no more death and dying. This world was ushered in through the death and resurrection of Jesus and charged to his followers to carry it out. Yes, we live in and a "now but not yet" world where these things are not yet, but Christians are to be a part of the "now" while we wait for the Spirit to fulfill the not yet.
As Jesus followers it is our place to follow Jesus and carry forth the cross. The cross is the ultimate image of the denial of self for the sake of the world. The wickedness of the world has the self at the center. The self proclaims you can do me no wrong and if you do, I'll pay you back eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth. The worlds perspective of right and wrong is administered by the individual self. For many of the Islamic extremist, I'm assuming, the death of OBL is a wrong that must be made right, thus the cycle will continue.
For the sake of the world, Jesus followers need to be different by carrying our crosses. We need to deny self and not seek vengeance. Instead we need to administer grace, mercy, and forgiveness. Something will happen as we do this. Hearts will melt, people will be shown a different way, and the message of the gospel can and will be proclaimed. Until then, we'll live in an us vs. them world and those outside the covenantal family of God will blame it on religion.
Please join in ushering in the "now". Break the cycle of evil and be people of the Spirit by administering love, peace, joy, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. Against these things there is no law friends!