I’m proud to be an American. In a country where American citizens are no longer moved by patriotism and where a movie called “Captain America” is “not really about American pride”, I am unashamedly proud to live in this great country and I thank God for it. I am thankful for George W. Bush for being so diligent to pursue the war on terror. I am thankful for Barack Obama for following through and taking seriously the threat of Bin Laden; I thought he gave a wonderful address to the nation last night. I was happy to see, and more importantly hear, the groups of people shout “USA” around the white house; it was good to see a rallying for America. The United States and the world is a safer place today than it was yesterday. For that I am very thankful.
But we must be careful.
The response I am hearing from Christians is troubling. The emotion conveyed by Obama last night during his address was right on. He reminded me of the first George Bush during the time of the Berlin Wall’s collapse in 1989. Bush didn’t throw a ticker tape parade and joyfully boast to the world – instead he expressed thankfulness and gratitude, but recognized the gravity of the situation. A Christian response to the killing of Bin Laden should absolutely be centered in thanksgiving. Thankful for our brave military, thankful for the leadership of our country, thankful that we have not forgotten the tragedy of 9/11, and most of all thankful that God is working all things out for His own glory and purpose. But what if we gathered around the dinner table while holding hands to thank God in gentle prayer for this happy day? What if we teach our children that death is always the enemy and that sin is what corrupts the world? What if we remind one another that rejoicing over the death of one apparently void of Jesus Christ is a tragedy?
Instead, I am concerned at the many birthday-party-type celebrations happening among Christians. I am concerned at our joy that Bin Laden is “rotting in hell.” I am concerned that our children are learning this message: if our enemies get shot and killed, nothing can be more glorious.
Folks, Bin Laden was an evil man and it is good that he has met his end. But his acts can not compare to the cross, where the sinless Lamb of God was brutally beaten and murdered by evil men. It is from that cross, in horrific agony, that our Lord asked the Father to forgive them. In our joy, in our thanksgiving, in our relief, in our expressions of gratitude, we as Christians are bound to keep the attitude of Christ on the cross in our heart of hearts.
So be thankful. Be joyful. Be a proud American. Just be careful that you are still most like Christ.