So many thoughts.

Like many Americans, I watched as the news of the Osama Bin Laden’s death spread in anticipation of President Obama’s official announcement.  And, like many Americans, I have a wide variety of emotions and thoughts.  Here is one that seems to be rising to the top.

In Matthew 26, we find Jesus near the end of his life and in the garden (how fitting).  The guards come to arrest him, and Peter pulls his sword and cuts off the ear of a servant, a man called “Malchus”.  Afterward, Jesus tells him to put the sword away because “all who draw the sword will die by the sword.”

Osama Bin Laden was a man that lived a life of “drawing the sword.” Romans 13 is clear.

“Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.  Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.  For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended.  For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.  Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.”

Translation: God has established all authorities for the role of wielding the sword, that is, to bring justice.  In the perfect scenario (which does not exist, btw), government is out to protect those that cannot themselves.  That is why the Old Testament (in particular) is all about caring for the fatherless, the widow, the poor, the hungry, the naked, etc.  In the perfect world, when we (people) do “right,” government is our friend.  But, when we do wrong (kill the innocent by flying planes into buildings, blow up embassies, etc) we are to “be afraid.”  Why? “For he (governing authorities) does not bear the sword for nothing.  He (governing authorities) is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer (the aforementioned airplanes into buildings situation).”

Where does the individual Christian fit into all of this?  Therein lies the real question.  Because of our form of government, when it is an agent of wrath, by extension, we are agents of wrath.  And God says all kinds of things about He alone being the avenger.  A few questions:

  • Does He avenge through us?  Could He?
  • If “all who draw the sword, die by the sword”…that includes us, right?
  • How does a nation “turn the other cheek?”
  • How do we ensure that the sword is wielded properly?

Truthfully, my answers to those questions make me a bit uncomfortable and put me at odds with a lot of people and much of what I saw being celebrated last night and today. I’ll close with the lyrics to Derek Webb’s “My Enemies Are Men Like Me”

“I have come to give you life 
and to show you how to live it.
I have come to make things right 
to heal their ears and show you how to forgive them.
Because I would rather die I would rather die, 
I would rather die
, than to take your life.

How can I kill the ones I’m supposed to love
? My enemies are men like me.
I will protest the sword if it’s not wielded well
, my enemies are men like me.

Peace by way of war is like purity by way of fornication, 
it’s like telling someone murder is wrong and then showing them by way of execution.
Because I would rather die I would rather die, 
I would rather die
, than to take your life.

How can I kill the ones I’m supposed to love
? My enemies are men like me.
I will protest the sword if it’s not wielded well
, my enemies are men like me.

When justice is bought and sold just like weapons of war
, the ones who always pay are the poorest of the poor.

How can I kill the ones I’m supposed to love
? My enemies are men like me.
I will protest the sword if it’s not wielded well
, my enemies are men like me”

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Filed under derek webb, Jesus, jesus christ, romans

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