“Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” – Jesus (Matt. 5:44)

15 05 2011


“Should we, specifically followers of the crucified Jesus, find joy in the death of this evil man? Consider this potent verse from the prophet:

Say to them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Ezekiel 33.11

It seems that God takes “no pleasure” in the death of the wicked men and women of the world. This includes the worst of the worst, namely Osama Bin Laden. And if God feels this way about the death of the wicked, about those we consider the enemies of the common good in the world, Jesus takes this teaching to a new level.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. Matthew 5.43-45

Question: Should we pray for our enemies or rejoice in their death?”

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“… Christians should not celebrate Bin Laden’s death, as such. God Himself does not celebrate the death of individuals, no matter how wicked they may be:

“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? …For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign LORD. Repent and live!” (Ezekiel 18:23 & 32)

“Say to them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they” (Ezekiel 33:11)

Keep in mind, this is the so-called “Old Testament God” speaking–you know, the one who is supposedly the violent, vindictive one, according to (ill-informed) critics! If God Himself, who is the ultimate standard of both Justice and Truth, does not delight in the death of wicked persons, who are we to do so??”

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“I remember watching the riots and flag burning in parts of the MIddle East that took place after the 9/11 events. I remember feeling angry toward those people celebrating the deaths of my countrymen. I remember feeling anger toward the people that perpetrated the attacks on mothers and fathers and working class people across the country. I couldn’t help but to think, “what is wrong with those people that they really think that God is on their side?” I remember thinking; “They actually think that this is how God demonstrates his favor—by killing the people who don’t fit into our moral, political or religious agendas?””

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“My favorite t-shirt simply reads “When Jesus said, “Love your enemies,” I think he probably meant, don’t kill them.””

“The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. In fact, violence merely increases hate. Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

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“First, if we speak of Bin Laden as “our” enemy, it’s important to remember that the “our” of whom we are speaking is not the church, not Christians, not the people of God, but the United States of America. Being an American is one part of my identity, it is my people, so yes, he was “our” enemy. But this is not the same as saying that he is the church’s enemy, an agent of Satan as one standing against the agents of light.

Hear me! This is not to say that he is not an agent of evil, but a plea for us to recognized that good guys and bad guys in the wars of the world are not drawn in absolute colors of black and white, but rather in various shades of gray.”

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“Understandably, news of Osama bin Laden’s demise at the hands of U. S. Navy Seals provoked cries of celebration. The mastermind of terror, even against civilians (indeed, against fellow Muslims) has been brought to justice. But what kind of justice?

In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, President George W. Bush authorized “Operation Infinite Justice.” Especially after his comment that “this crusade, this war on terrorism, is going to take a while,” however, the mission was renamed “Operation Enduring Freedom.” Reportedly, the name-change was due at least in part to the concern raised by Muslims that only God can execute “infinite justice.” One would have hoped that the change had been provoked instead by Christian reaction.

Islam, of course, is not just a religion; it’s a cultural and even geo-political reality. As such, its strict adherents excoriate co-religionists like Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na’im who call for an “Islamic Reformation” that would make jihad into a spiritual struggle rather than an armed military conflict.

Unfortunately, Christianity has had a long and complicated history of its own on”

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“The Pharisees brought to Jesus a woman they had caught in the act of adultery (Jn 8:3-4; where was the guilty man?). They wanted to see how this increasingly popular, would-be Messiah, might respond. Their motive, of course, was to entrap Jesus (vs. 6). The law explicitly commanded that adulterers had be stoned to death (Lev 20:20; Deut 22:22). If Jesus agreed with this and had the lady stoned, it would likely get him in trouble with Roman authorities, for they alone had the right to try and carry out capital punishment. If Jesus disagreed with this, however, it would set him in explicit opposition with the Torah and justify the Jewish court trying him as a false teacher.

Displaying his signature genius, Jesus found a way to affirm the Torah in principle while undermining it in practice. “Let anyone who is without sin cast the first stone,” he said (vs. 7). In agreement with the Torah, Jesus affirmed that sinners like this woman deserve to be executed. Yet, he added, only a sinless person would be justified in carrying out this sentence. Since none of the woman’s accusers were sinless, they ended up dropping their stones and walking away.”

Click here to finish reading this post by pastor / author Greg Boyd.


Some great books about Christian pacifism.


Click here to read an older post of mine about Christian non-violence.