Did Jesus really mean that we’re supposed to pray for our enemies? Really?!

Patriotic crowds gathered outside the White House to celebrate the death of Osama bin Laden.
Last night, the White House announced that Osama bin Laden had been killed in an air strike in Pakistan about a week ago. Facebook, Twitter, and—I’m sure—the blogosphere immediately erupted with celebration. In fact, large crowds gathered in front of the White House and in several major cities to celebrate. Just from checking my Facebook News Feed, you would’ve thought it meant we had won the global war on terror and that now a new age of global peace and prosperity can finally begin because we killed the one man who was standing in the way!
I had—and still have—some very mixed feelings about this whole deal, especially after reading how people are responding to the announcement of Osama’s death. I’ll admit, my first response was actually shocked disbelief:  I thought Osama was long dead and that we were just on a wild goose chase. Then I started to get a little excited. That us, until I looked at Facebook and realized all those un-Christian responses were really just saying what I was feeling deep inside… For example, I’ve read statuses that say, “rot in hell,” “gotcha b*tch,” and “really glad hells population increased with osama bin ladin. Really wish we could have tortured him a little first. Oh well burn in hell.” Oh, I forgot to mention that these posts are all from people who claim to be Christians. On the last one, someone commented, “This is the best news Ive heard in so long, that I don’t remember any better.Maybe he was tortured. We can hope!!Hopefully the devil is a very happy tonight.”
So, in light of Osama’s death how do we interpret Jesus’ commands in Matthew 5:43-44 to love our enemies and to pray for those who persecute us? In The Message of Matthew : The Kingdom of Heaven, Michael Green writes,

The Great Lover has poured his love upon us unworthy rebels. He has purified us, has adopted us into his kingdom, and wants us to be his ambassadors in the human kingdoms. How is it to be done, and how is our allegiance to be shown? Supremely, by love. Love is the mark which, above all else, should distinguish those who know themselves to have been found by a loving God (97).

Apparently, our interpretation is to simply ignore Jesus’ command, right? “Who cares. Let’s all just gloat over the fact that a man is dead and—we all presume—burning in hell.” But suddenly, I don’t see a difference between Evangelical Christians and the terrorists that we’re fighting against. Suddenly, the lines are beginning to blur. Consider the words of Ezekiel 18:23:  “Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign LORD. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?”
What are your thoughts about this supposed victory? Is it ever okay for Christians to gloat over the death of someone? Does it matter how wicked we think they are? Should we ever be glad that someone is burning in hell? What’s a safe balance of patriotism and love? Or, in this case, is there a safe balance? Is this a case of either/or?
I am very obviously still sorting through all this, but I encourage you to leave your comments and let me know what you think is a good Christian response to this current event?
This entry was posted in Culture, Theology, Topical and tagged , , by daniel. Bookmark the permalink.

About daniel

First and foremost, I belong to Jesus. I try to live every day to bring glory to my King. I am married to the most amazing woman I've ever met; her name is Connie. I was born in San Antonio, TX; raised in Blaine, TN; served in the Air Force for seven years in Anchorage, Afghanistan, and the UAE; and am now attending Western Seminary in Portland, OR. I'm excited about the future!

4 thoughts on “Did Jesus really mean that we’re supposed to pray for our enemies? Really?!

  1. A good response is always to pray, whether we “feel” like it or not. Some of the best prayers start out as praying for our enemies but turn into prayer for our hearts to change. I don't believe we should ever take pride in death, even if the person was a terrorist. Pray for families that are grieving loss, pray for the surrounding community, pray for military members currently deployed who might face a backlash, but most of all pray for yourself to draw closer to God and be changed as necessary through this incident. Also pray to have the loving words to confront Christian brothers and sisters who are not following Jesus's example as they should.

  2. I believe the lines of “being a Christian” and being an American have been blurred. We get hyped up that we're supposed to love our country so much (pride) that we seem to forget the standards of living. We were raised on the notion that bad people die and good people live. We revel in the fact that someone who hates us has died. Completely against Jesus' words…and now there's a sort of “zombie” mentality that if you aren't glad that Osama is dead, then YOU'RE the terrorist and you hate this country. It's sad, really.

  3. Connie,
    I think you make a good point about being obedient regardless of our feelings. When we were deployed, Kalob would make it a point to pray for the terrorists that we were fighting against; I really admired that about him.

    I totally agree that most Evangelicals seem unable to distinguish between the Kingdom of Uncle Sam and the Kingdom of God; they think they're one and the same. They're not!

  4. Very interesting stuff.. Ive seen alot of talk about this lately.. I think there is a fine line between rejoicing in justice being served, and rejoicing in someones eternal damnation. Although i feel like he was justly killed. I dont think progressing that into “i hope he suffers greatly in hell,” should be our attitude… Because apart from the grace of god, we all should be burning in hell and suffering unimaginable pain. I think we should rejoice in gods justice but also step back and thank god that he has provided christ for our atonement.. Without him we would all like wise perish

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