I confess that often I don't think first as a Christian. Cut me off in traffic, insult me in public, run over my foot with your grocery cart, and my first reaction is rarely grace-filled. So when I heard that a Navy SEAL had neatly placed a match-grade round above the languid left eye of the world's most adored and reviled murderer, I had three distinctly non-Christian thoughts in rapid succession:
- "I'll bet your paradise is a mite warmer than you expected, eh buddy?"
- "I wonder if the shooter will get movie rights."
- "It won't make a difference."
Judgment, envy, and pessimism-my perfect trinity of unChristian emotion. Wiser, more faith-filled people than I are better suited to work out a Christian response to the killing of an antichrist. I'm capable of such thought, but I shrink from it because even my great hypocrisy has bounds. I oppose capital punishment, but I would have no restraint were someone to threaten my children. I believe in forgiveness, but struggle even now-at peril to my soul, the resentment runs so deep-to let go of my anger at someone who has trespassed against my family.
I look to other Christians to know how I should think. I am a great mimic, which is the best strategy, I think, for a stumbling, self-absorbed, immoral clod like me. I have role models in fatherhood, in management, in writing, in faith. A man could do worse than imitate his betters.
This is what led me to wonder: What do other Christians think about the killing of this man? In seeking an answer, I found a wonderful compilation of the most-tweeted Bible verses in the aftermath of bin Laden's execution. The beauty of Twitter is that a tweet is 140 characters, and it is birthed in a button-push-an exquisite blend of brevity and immediacy. You want to know someone's personality? Follow his tweets (mine are mostly griping about travel, and rejoicing in the undeserved sweetness of my children).
Two thoughts intrude when I survey these verses. The first is inspired by the top Bible verse tweeted after bin Laden's killing: "Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when they stumble, do not let your heart rejoice" (Proverbs 24:17).
The other thought is more a conundrum, which is why I offer it to you. The top 10 tweets are all from the Old Testament. It is certainly apt, in light of an enemy of the living God coming to justice in the Middle East. There are New Testament verses in the remainder of the list, but these are all from Paul's letter to the Romans, and two seem unlikely to have been inspired by the day's events. So I'm curious-if you could only offer a New Testament verse in response to bin Laden's killing, and it couldn't come from Romans, what would it be?