Kenneth L. Samuel
"O Lord God to whom vengeance belongs, shine forth! Rise up, O Judge of the earth; render punishment to the proud. Lord, how long will the wicked triumph?" - Psalm 94:1-3 (NKJV)
People of faith are quite varied in our responses as to how the United States should respond to the atrocities of chemical weapons unleashed on the people of Syria, allegedly under the direction of President Bashad al-Assad.
Some feel strongly that the mass murder in Syria warrants some type of military retaliation, on the part of the U.S. and her allies, that would at least weaken the capacity for any future use of chemical weaponry against citizens. Others believe that anything short of a full commitment to a regime change in Syria will not make much of a difference. Still others contend that as horrendous as the tragedy in Syria is, the United States cannot afford to entangle itself in another foreign conflict, given the urgent problems we face at home with our staggering economy, unsustainable energy, educational dysfunctions and health care confrontations.
Whether the issue at hand is atrocity in Syria or genocide in Rwanda or slaughter in the Sudan, there is one moral principle that should guide all of our moral responses. It is the conviction that vengeance does not belong within the purview of human action. Vengeance is a designated function that God reserves exclusively for God's self.
This certainly does not mean that people of faith are to take no responsibly for the execution of justice in the world. It does mean that whatever actions we take to combat and correct socio-political evil must always be tempered with a profound sense of humility and prayer - recognizing that we too are flawed agents operating in a much broader Providential process to deliver freedom and justice for all.
We must certainly win some victories on the way to God's ultimate vengeance. But let us not use any moral victory or moral cause as a license to assume ultimate vindication. The vengeance of God is what keeps people of faith engaged but not arrogant - both in America and in Syria and all around the globe.
Dear God, Please help us to act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with you, our God. Amen.
Kenneth L. Samuel is Pastor of Victory for the World Church, Stone Mountain, Georgia.