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Hoping not to make a similar mistake ten years later

Christians have been split on their thoughts towards Osama bin Laden’s death.  For the sake of simplicity, I’ll put them in the “love your enemies, do not repay evil with evil, our fight is not against flesh or blood” group and the “I will triumph over my enemies” group.  Anyone who reads my blog or knows me most likely knows where I stand on it.  But in case you are not one of the five people who regularly read my blog or know me, I’ll just say that I don’t think the angels were rejoicing over bin Laden’s death and there is no rejoicing over a child of God spending eternity away from the Father (I’m no arbiter, but that seems like the case).  If you want to get a better idea of my thoughts on bin Laden’s death, check out Drew Caldwell or Charles Kimball.

But the larger question on my mind is what happens next to believers in the United States?  Where do we go from here?  And what do we rally around?

The events of 9/11 were horrifying but the works and lies of the Enemy in the aftermath of the tragedy were equally devastating.  In any time of mourning or sadness, anger or bitterness, a longing for justice or vengeance, the thing we need is the love and the peace of Jesus.  But ten years ago, when we needed to choose Jesus, the Enemy snuck in and gave us patriotism and the pride that goes with being a citizen of the United States.  It seemed nice at the time.  Patriotism allowed all of us to come together as a unit, to comfort each other and feel connected to each other…things we all like and want.

Eventually though, we see U.S. flags next to crosses at the local church.  We start believing that part of being a good Christian is being a good American.  We begin to think that God favors the U.S. and would surely bless us over any Middle Eastern country.  Over the last ten years, we (the church) have incorporated a piece of patriotism into our identity as a christian.  I’m convinced that the outcome of this confused identity has bred not just a sense of exceptionalism in our country, but also a fear of Muslims both in our community and across the Earth in the Arab world.  It wouldn’t be out of line to say the church of America’s fear of Muslims has turned into racism.

All of this begs the question:  What does the church of the U.S. do now?  It would be easy to continue down the road we already began paving for ourselves.  We could gather around and celebrate an enemy’s death.  We could rejoice over the Kingdom of America being safer.  Or we could continue to live in ignorance and fear against some of the Arabs and Muslims around us.

But actually, all of those are bad ideas.

The thing we have to decide now is what Kingdom we belong to and what lens do we choose to see bin Laden’s death through?  If we opt for the lens of the Kingdom of America, we give the Enemy access to slip in and feed us false idols like patriotism.  But if we choose the lens of the Kingdom of God, then we get the Father’s eyes.

So let’s not make the same mistake we made ten years ago.  Instead of uniting against someone or uniting with a temporary Kingdom like we did after 9/11, let’s find our unity in Jesus this time.

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