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Monday, May 02, 2011

An American Christian Prayer

God, Can we talk? Osama Bin Laden was killed last night. Lots of people are cheering his death. I am not cheering, but there is a huge part of me that wants to. As an American I want to cheer, but as a follower of you, I don’t feel right about cheering.

You see, most of the time it is not a conflict for me to be both a citizen and supporter of the United States and a Christian. I believe that you have unleashed all kinds of gifts and blessings and responsibilities to America. However, there are other times when I must decide whether I will be an American or a Christian. Ultimately, with whom does my allegiance rest? The killing of Osama Bin Laden is one such time. Help me dig within myself and learn who it is that I am and how I want to express myself. 

Yes, there is a nationalistic impulse in me that desires to cheer along with many Americans and pledge my allegiance to the flag. I have not forgotten the pain we all felt on 9/11. It was one of the most uncertain times in my life. I had two small children. I lived near a symbolic “target” that was shut down for a few days. I was scared. There is no doubt that 9/11 changed me and how safe I felt in my own home, in my own country. I learned on 9/11 that living in America was not immunity from terror.

Yes, I feel the impulse for justice and revenge. I feel the desire to make things right.

But you did not call me to be an American. You did not create me to dominate others. You have not laid out for me a plan of revenge against enemies. You did not desire what I desired. This impulse I have for revenge is not faith and this desire I have for this kind of justice is not what you have asked of me. I read your word and see these things:

“Do not kill.” Exodus 20:13

“Pray for your enemies.” –Matthew 5:44

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us…While we were God’s enemies we were reconciled to him through the death of is son.” – Romans 5:8, 10

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

You never told me to be nationalistic. You never commanded me to have an allegiance to a nation. You never required that I take out my enemy. You never told me to kill in response to killing.

I cannot rejoice. Forgive my desire to cheer.

 

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4 comments:

Harold said...

Chris, Thanks for giving voice to these feelings.

Sheryl said...

I don't know you; I have never read your blog before; but, I too was feeling conflicted by the cheering in the streets over Bin Ladins death. It felt terribly wrong somehow, but it also felt wrong that it felt wrong, if that makes any sense. I felt so conflicted that I had to search for some quote or words of wisdom to try and express what I was feeling. I found this. Thank you so much for putting what I was feeling into words and letting me know I am not alone; and that I don't have to be ashamed as an American to find the rejoicing in the streets over an enemy's death disturbing and very wrong.

Fajita said...

Thanks Harold.

Thanks Sheryl, too. This is a complicated thing. I am glad to walk with this challenging line with you.

Sheryl said...

I don't know you; I have never read your blog before; but, I too was feeling conflicted by the cheering in the streets over Bin Ladins death. It felt terribly wrong somehow, but it also felt wrong that it felt wrong, if that makes any sense. I felt so conflicted that I had to search for some quote or words of wisdom to try and express what I was feeling. I found this. Thank you so much for putting what I was feeling into words and letting me know I am not alone; and that I don't have to be ashamed as an American to find the rejoicing in the streets over an enemy's death disturbing and very wrong.