Don’t Party in the Streets

With the death of Osama bin Laden, a Christian understanding of the data made its way into friend feeds and twitter timelines everywhere (see my post from yesterday here).

The whole scenario reminds me an instance that happened when a few my siblings and I were in the 10-years-old or below category. As was not uncommon, one of my siblings was making trouble. Enter Mom, who took the culprit down the hall into her room to administer justice.

As my siblings and I stood around in our room, silently listening for the sounds of discipline, one of my other siblings began to chuckle.

“It’s not funny.” we chided.

Why was it that a group of middle-school-aged children intuitively knew it was inappropriate to laugh during that moment? Because we knew that, really, it could have been –and often was– one of us.

To a degree, my heart is to break over just punishment because, when just punishment is called for, it’s because of sin. So I weep over sin and I weep over the consequences of sin –including the just pain crushing the sinner.

When Jesus hung on a cross, receiving God’s justice substitutionally –that is, taking the judgment we deserved– many stood below Him and celebrated His penalty. That was evil. It was also evil to celebrate the penalty of the two criminals who hung on either side of Him.

When the Righteous Judge justly wields the sword, I will watch, but I will watch through tears. I will not laugh at the cries of agony. I will not smirk at the screams of pain. I will not clap after the execution.

“But” comes the objection “if justice is good, then shouldn’t we celebrate it?” That’s a fair question.

When we witness something good, we have an entire spectrum of emotions available to acknowledge it. Some of those emotions are appropriate. Some of them are not. Bottom line: just because something is good doesn’t mean it gets a party. It may just need a sober moment of reflection.

You see, when we witness justice in all of its shocking and vivid detail, it should drive us, not to party in the streets, but to reverence and repentance.

(Special thanks to Jon, Steven, Josh K and Josh S for their thoughts and edits)

8 thoughts on “Don’t Party in the Streets

  • May 2, 2011 at 8:32 pm
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    AMEN!!!!! Thank you so much for this post!

  • May 2, 2011 at 10:28 pm
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    exactly what i was thinking last night, yet didn’t even have the words to express it to myself. thanks for putting words to my feelings.

  • May 2, 2011 at 11:38 pm
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    I totally agree. I was appalled at the celebrations.

  • May 3, 2011 at 1:56 pm
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    @Sarah @Gina: Thank you my friends! I had a good group of guys who helped me out.

    @Laurajane: I know the feeling very well! Thanks for stopping by!

    @Grandma: :-) Yeah, I was pretty upset myself.

  • May 4, 2011 at 7:31 am
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    How would you explain Exodus 15?

  • May 4, 2011 at 9:21 pm
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    “The righteous will be glad when they are avenged, when they bathe their feet in the blood of the wicked.”
    -Psalm 58:10

    “When the righteous prosper, the city rejoices; they shout for joy when the wicked die.”
    -Proverbs 11:10

    I believe it is absolutely right for us to rejoice at the death of Osama Bin Laden. Not only is it fine for a Christian to rejoice, but also it should be done, with reverence and respect, but it SHOULD be done

  • May 15, 2011 at 4:14 am
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    @Jesse: I responded to your full comment on the proverbs quote. Thanks again for the comment!

    @b1rdm4ns1: As to the text, I don’t think it’s okay to take descriptive texts and applying them prescriptively. All we needed to do was turn on the TV and see both the Psalm 58:11 and Proverbs 11:10 illustrated in real life. But just because that’s how people do react doesn’t mean that’s how people should react. Teasing out that difference would take some careful work.

    Like I told Jesse in the other post, I think the death of an inarguably evil man is a good thing. But I think we should react in a way that shows gravity and tact.

    Thanks for the pushing back a little. It gave me some good food for thought.

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