Friday night I watched the evening news broadcast from ABC. One of the stories was of the U. S. drone strike in Pakistan that killed a terrorist leader. In reporting the story, ABC’s Brian Ross quoted an unnamed government official as saying “Life is good” in response to the news that the terrorist was killed.
I despise what terrorists do. I despise the evil that justifies in their own minds their senseless killing of innocent lives. I wish there were no terrorists in our world. Yet, I winced a little at the reaction “Life is good” in response to the killing.
As a Christian, I take seriously the final words of Jesus commanding his followers to go into all the world and make disciples of all the nations. Evil has existed since man first rebelled against God. The first-choice solution for changing this unfortunate reality has never been to knock off all those who would do us harm or carry out evil, but to make every effort to change the hearts of the lost. For those of us who believe in eternal life in heaven with Christ and in hell without him, we should take no pleasure in the prospect of any soul dying without knowing Him. Nothing is more tragic.
Don’t think for a minute that I’m some softy when it comes to justice. Physical death is a just punishment for heinous crimes – including terrorism – and in no way contradicts the biblical commandment “You shall not murder.” Premeditated murder of an innocent victim is not the same as a civil government’s right and responsibility to enforce laws and carry out punishment accordingly, even if that means killing the perpetrator. We live in a fallen world and one of the unfortunate consequences is that some people do horrendous things that require punishment in order for justice to be served and to ensure that societies have some semblance of order.
There is a difference, though, in being gleeful about executing such justice and mourning the fact that it is necessary. Any parent who has ever thought or said before punishing a child “This is going to hurt me more than it hurts you” has experienced the angst that sets in when punishment may be necessary but still a cause for sadness in the one executing it.
And that is my simple point in this post: We can and should execute justice and punish when appropriate, but let’s not do it with a smile and a flippant “Life is good” attitude because we enjoy it. Instead, mourn that the hearts of so many are wicked enough to cause the situation. Work and pray and do everything imaginable to change those hearts so that such last-resort punishment is no longer necessary.
I’m under no illusion that this is a problem that humankind has the ability to solve. I only know of One who has the real power to change a person from the inside out. He’s been doing it since He created humankind and He is still in the heart-changing business today for all who turn to Him in repentance and faith.
Is life good? Yes! But not because we got one of the bad guys. Life is good when we know the Author of life, are assured of our place in eternity with Him, and are being faithful servants doing what He has called us to do for all of our days this side of heaven.