Don't Party in the Streets

Current Events May 02, 2011

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)

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