Rejoice in the Downfall of Evil, Not of the Evildoer
Posted by Tony Listi on May 4, 2011
Say to them, As I live, says the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways; for why will you die, O house of Israel? (Ezk 33:11)
God takes no pleasure in the death of those created in His image and likeness, whether they turn from their evil ways or not. When an evildoer is justly killed, are we going to imitate our heavenly Father or not?
This is good, and it is acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (1 Tim 2:3-4)
God never gives up on anyone, even someone like Osama bin Laden. God wants everyone to be saved, not just Americans, not just those who call themselves Christians, not just “good people.” And as the parable of the Good Shepherd and Ezk 33:11 reveal, God rejoices when the lost are found, when the evildoer abandons evil.
Jesus was praying for His enemies while on the cross and told us to love our enemies. How can this example and command be reconciled with joy over the death of of Bin Laden?
As always, this is really a matter of Christians (and everyone) needing to separate the sin from the sinner, the evil from the evildoer. We absolutely should celebrate the downfall of evil and increased peace and security that comes as a result of Bin Laden’s death. But taking pleasure in the death itself is not Godly and Christ-like.
Of course, loving our enemies doesn’t mean we can’t or shouldn’t kill them, for our love of them and others may require using potentially lethal means to prevent or end their evildoing and defend others from harm.
Don’t take me for a pacifist. As a concealed handgun license holder, I wouldn’t hesitate to “love” my enemy and others by using potentially lethal force. I would rejoice in the fact that evil had been prevented or stopped, that I had protected myself, my girlfriend, my family, or my friends. But it would be un-Christian to rejoice in the death itself of a criminal or sinner rather than in what the death resulted in.
Lethal self-defense has a double effect: self-defense and the death of the evildoer. The Christian should rejoice in the former and lament the latter, for these are the demands of Love Himself.
Are you unaware of how the earliest Christians cared for their Roman persecutors in the earliest proto-hospitals? Yet another example of Christian love of the enemy.
How many enemies of the faith have come to embrace the faith because of the transcendent Christian love of one’s enemies? We should never doubt the power of God to turn His most vicious enemies into His greatest saints. Just ask St. Paul….