I could not put this into the title. I was afraid that forever I would be linked with poor theology.
In a blog post the day after the death of Osama Bin Laden, the “Reverend” Jesse Jackson wrote this about the death of Bin Laden: “This is a case where revenge is redemption.” Read the post here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rev-jesse-jackson/osama-bin-ladens-death-re_b_856128.html.
Let me ask you this: is there EVER a case where revenge is redemption? Was Christ’s death on the cross for our redemption some sort of revenge…and if so, by who? There may have been revenge in the hearts of the observers; but they were not the reason that Jesus went to His death. I thought it was for love, Reverend Jackson, I thought dying willingly in the place of another was for love, not out of hate or spite. Jesus said that He willingly laid down His life, not out of revenge. Perhaps they used a different Bible at the School of Theology which you attended, Reverend Jackson. If I strike back at someone who hurt me and I hurt them just as badly, is that redemption? For who?
I think Paul the Apostle had a different idea about how to handle anger and retribution. Ephesians 4:25-32: “Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. ‘In your anger do not sin;’ do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need. Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
I am not saying I would not have wanted to hurt this man as well. But nothing here results in redemption. Are we really set free now that this one man has died? Those who use violence to respond to violence are still bound by it. We are free because we trust in Christ’s redemptive work, where He gave His life as a ransom not out of bitterness but out of yielded selfless love. Paying the price to ransom a prisoner and set them free – this is redemption!