The news of the capture of Gaddafi yesterday was an amazing breakthrough for the people of Libya, but it caused a mixture of emotions in me. The first and strongest emotion came out as “Good, he got what he deserved.” There is no doubt that he did, since by all accounts he was a brutal dictator who had no compassion for others and would readily eliminate anyone who got in his way.
But as the news developed from the initial rumour to solid fact, I started to feel other emotions. I started to feel pity. One of the men who captured him said how he had begged for mercy when they found him in that hole. He told how Gaddafi had asked him “What did I ever do to you?” Then the footage came of him being bundled into the back of the pick-up truck, covered in blood, his expression confused, and frightened and screaming for mercy. When the trappings of state and the power of dictatorship had been stripped away, he was just a man – a frightened, dying man who had nothing and who was in a terrible position – but just a man.
Just a man. Just like me, just like the guy across the street. Just like you, perhaps.
Just like the people of Israel.
When you tell the people all these things, they will ask, ‘Why has the Lord decreed such terrible things against us? What have we done to deserve such treatment? What is our sin against the Lord our God?’ (Jeremiah 16:10, NLT)
What have we done to deserve such treatment? It’s the same as Gaddafi’s question, “What did I ever do to you?”
It’s denial through and through. We all do it. We have done it from an early age.
Who, me? It wasn’t me. Even if it was me, it wasn’t that bad. I think you are being a bit hard on me.
The Lord detests murderers and deceivers. (Psalm 5:6, NLT)
Even if I have not murdered someone, I have told lies, and God detests them both. He doesn’t differentiate. They are both as bad as the other.
Who, me? Yes, me. Just like Gaddafi.
But there is a difference between Gaddafi and me.
It’s because of a man who wasn’t just a man. He was grabbed by soldiers, beaten, dragged where he didn’t want to go. He could have honestly asked, “What did I ever do to deserve this?” But he didn’t. He knew it wasn’t what he had done – it was what I had done that deserved it. I deserved it. He took the blame, the punishment.
I have taken my atrocities to Jesus, laid them at the foot of the cross on which He died, and asked him to forgive me.
And he did. And when he did, God put them all in his sea of forgetfulness.
Whatever I have done to deserve it never happened.