A story of three terrorists...

This blog is about three terrorists.

The first terrorist is Usama Bin Laden. Our world's most famous terrorist has been killed. Watching the historic moments over the past 14 hours has brought a mix of emotions for all of us. Relief that maybe terrorism will subside. Fear that this radical system might have other plans already in progress, ready to unleash when this moment came. Closure for families who have waited almost 10 years to see the architect of 9/11 and the cause of their loved ones death finally come to justice. And then there is Celebration. I think this is the response I struggle with the most. Not because I have forgotten about the tragedy of September 11, 2001, or because it did not directly affect my family. My brother was working in the State Department in Washington across the street when the Pentagon was struck that day. If you are American or if you have the slightest strain of empathy for those who suffered, you have wept over the loss of life that terrible day in our history and for all of those who have been defending our freedom over the past decade.

Maybe the reason I struggle with celebration the most is not because I do not think that Usama Bin Laden doesn't deserve it. But, probably because I think he does deserve it.

Watching the world celebrate the death of anyone has never really occurred to me, and probably to most of us. That is not something we have experience thinking about or has entered our heart. But we are faced with it now. This is a difficult balance for me.

The second terrorist is hardly remembered. Recently, Christians all over the world mourned the death and then celebrated the resurrection of Christ. Certainly one of the most iconic and historic moments in humankind. And, no doubt, whether we are Christian or Gentile, our response to Christ's death is the most important decision we will make in our lives. However, what has overtaken my thoughts the past few hours is Christ's response to the man who hung on the cross next to Him some 2,000 years ago. He was a villain. A thief. A terrorist. And there were many who were at the hill called Golgotha that day who must have been dealing with a balance of emotions as they witnessed the death of this man. And with all of that in mind, I am moved by the reaction of Christ to such a person. In the closing moments of His life, Christ looks at this terrorist and says, "This day you will be with me in paradise." (Luke 23:39-43)

An almost unthinkable response to those who were being avenged for this mans deeds. What brought Him to speak these words to such a person was the response of this terrorist to Christ and every witness at the scene while he hung dying for his actions. He asked for forgiveness. And that contrition is the basis of grace and mercy that every person who has ever lived will long for at some point in their life.

The third terrorist is me. And you. Sitting in front of our televisions, radios, and computers a smile came to our face as we watched the fall of the first terrorist. Or maybe we celebrated with the students who poured onto the streets outside the White House. I know, that like me, you have never killed a person. And you are arguing right now that it is unfair to place me and you in the same category as the first criminal who has killed thousands. Again, this is the balance that I also am struggling with.

But, it is the vengeance and the anger that condemn us both. I can hear the responses now. The call for justice and the demand for equity. Trust me, none of us wants that. Whether a speeding violation or drug trafficking or murder, do you know what that gets you? It gets you guilt and then varying degrees of consequences. For it is our own deeds that have condemned each of us. And we know it. It is that feeling we get daily when we take what isn't ours, when we speak what we should not have spoken, or when think what we should not have thought. Guilt.

But it is how we deal with guilt that is so important to mankind. There are ways we get to justice. These ways however, should not be celebrated with joy, but, accepted as the process of equity. A critical process for humanity that must be taken to bring people to judgment who will take actions outside of the law into their own hands. And after the process we move on. Even for the worst of souls we must practice this formula with dignity. Why? Because we have all been a villain. A thief. A terrorist.

The degree to which a man commits a transgression is not as important as the fact that one has been committed.  

And so I ask for all of us to look deep into our own heart. It is there we will see that there is more than one terrorist in the world today. If we have been running for a decade like the first criminal, hanging on a cross in our last moments like the second criminal, or still unwilling to accept our own guilt like the third criminal, we all need grace and mercy. And only One can give that to each of us. Christ.


Post a Comment