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When there’s an internal high-five after someone dies… be aware that you might be high-fiveing someone more evil than the one whose death you celebrate.

In contrast, this is God’s take:

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.

That’s Ezekiel 33:11. The Bible. And that is God speaking through His prophet.

There is no denying that these are the Father’s thoughts.

Even more, this point was proven to an extreme when God Himself (God the Son) died on the cross for His enemies (the Pharisees, the Romans, you and me).

Pastor Brain Zahnd challenged me with this, “Conscripting Jesus to a nationalistic agenda creates a grotesque caricature of Christ that the church must reject—now more than ever! Understanding Jesus as the Prince of Peace who transcends idolatrous nationalism and overcomes the archaic ways of war is an imperative the church must at last begin to take seriously.”

(Read more in A Farewell to Mars: An Evangelical Pastor’s Journey Toward the Biblical Gospel of Peace.)

Today CNN.com reported that the infamous Jihad John is dead.

“Jihadi John” was the English-speaking voice of ISIS. His twisted, videotaped taunts and acts of terrible cruelty — beheading hostages who had gone to the Middle East to help others and report stories to the world — symbolized the Islamist militant group’s depravity and ruthlessness.

Not anymore, it appears.

U.S. Army Col. Steven Warren said Friday that a drone strike the previous night killed everyone in the targeted vehicle, with Mohammed Emwazi — a.k.a. “Jihadi John” — likely among them.

This guy was a monster. I have zero reasons to celebrate his life. But neither will I celebrate his death. 

After Osama Bin Laden was killed, social media was full of celebration. I read from friends, pastors and lovely Christians acquaintances, who declared justice and joy at the passing of the mastermind of 9/11.

I understand the relief that comes when a man who has caused so much pain is decisively stopped from causing more pain. But my heart is constantly challenged by the heart and actions of Jesus Christ.

In the end we cannot eliminate our enemies through violence (violence only multiplies them). The New Testament way to eliminate enemies is to love them, forgive them, Jesus them.

I stand with Carl Medearis on this, “The way of the cross is perhaps the most aggressive stance towards evil ever taken. The love that God offers the world, in Christ, is not wimpy – it is a robust affront to the systems of our day that cry out for blood and revenge. The way of Jesus is the hard way. Forgiveness, love, choosing to lay down our lives is the most difficult path in the face of real enemies. Evil is real. But love is far more powerful.”

ISIS is a real threat that needs to be dealt with. Their list of crimes against humanity are exorbitant. We grieve with the thousands of families that are losing fathers and homes and cities and brothers.

And yet the way of the cross always invites us to prayer. Not just for the hurting, but for Jihad John and all the ISIS members.

It’s good when they pass. It’s just much better when they repent.

There have been multiple reports of some of them having radical encounters with Jesus.   And I pray with all of my heart that they encounter grace before bombs and death.

Like the murderer Moses did. Like the adulterous King David. Like the middle eastern religious terrorist Saul of Tarsus did.

I know these issues are complex and difficult. Lives are being lost. Terror is taking over. Yet maybe the solution is to go back to the simple gospel. To aggressively return to compassion and sacrifice.

It’s either that, or denying the rest of the story of God.

For we all deserve to die.

But He chose that we should live.

Because God would rather die for us than kill us.

Good news indeed.


“But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”

– Jesus

* What do you feel when a terrorist dies? Comment below.