Why is the world so caught up with this news? Al Megrahi was convicted for murdering 270 people in 1988 when he took part in bomb attack of a plane in mid air. The plane then crashed down on Lockerbie, Scotland, killing all on board as well as people on the ground below.
The Scotland justice minister said that he was released on compassionate grounds, being merciful to him as mercy is the value system of the people.
There are much debate going on right now concerning this issue. The United States deeply regretted this (as most of those killed were Americans) but the strongest opposition is from those whose loved ones died mercilessly that day. They said why we need to show him compassion now when he didn't show compassion on those lives he took then.
What is our view as Christians?
First of all, I cannot speak on behalf of the families of the victims as there are no words to express their griefs and I couldn't express my feelings either as I am an outsider.
Al Megrahi's case is not the only one that Christians need to grapple with.
There is one Jeffrey Dahmer who killed and mutilated 17 people who was caught and sentenced to life imprisonment. He became a Christian. He was killed in prison.
And the trial of one Kaing Guek Eav nicknamed Duch is still going on today for his involvement of genocide by the notorious Khmer Rouge, torturing and killing prisoners. He confessed as being a born-again Christian.
As a Christian, I am just as appalled as anyone concerning mass murderers, disgusted at how a human being can behave in such beyond animalistic behaviour. I was asking myself whether does God look at sin as greater or lesser sin or sin is just sin.
I believe there is this truth of a greater sin and a lesser sin (John 19:11; implied by Jesus in Luke 12:42-48; Matthew 12:31; 2 Peter 2:20-21). The verses mentioned are taken in the context of punishment sin brings when one faces God unrepentant.
Mass murderers or cruel people in this world can escape the judgment of man but they will not escape the wrath of God. The Bible clearly says, the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). Death here speaks of a separation from God and all things God. This means hell is real (Jesus Himself spoke of it often) and darkness and torment in hell are not fabrications. Like someone said, Hell is no playground! In my opinion, there is something like greater punishment and lesser punishment for hell bounders (Luke 12:42-48).
Most Christian would agree to the hell part although some would disagree with greater and lesser punishment theory. The big question is more towards how do we treat the wicked people now when they are still alive? How does God see them? The case becomes more complicated when these people accepted Jesus as Lord and Saviour. Does God forgive them just like that?
First of all, God wants everyone to know Him and turn to Him for salvation. He provided salvation by sending Jesus, His only Son to die for the sins of the whole world (2 Peter 3:9; John 3:16; Acts 4:12). This means God sees all people as being lost and hopeless without Him. All people here include mass murderers, they are all given equal chance to repent. This is called grace, a favour granted to undeserved and sin-infested humans. Amazing grace to be exact! The poor and the rich, the good, bad, ugly, all have equal opportunity in God’s eyes.
Sometimes I want an-eye-for-an-eye judgment in this life for those found guilty of crime which many would agree with me. This is what I called consequences of sin and of wickedness that will afflict those criminals. Consequences include the law and the judicial system and also the majority of common people going against these criminals.
As Christians, we may have a strong urge for judgment and not shedding a tear even when they die or like Al Megrahi about to die, we must also display mercy and grace for these whose lives may be lost forever. Yes, they deserve more than a death sentence for their inexplicable crime, God still sees them as lost souls. Most of us may not be as evil as them but we are as guilty to God as they are. Only God understands the feelings of those who lost their loved one in the Lockerbie tragedy. Each life is precious to God and when the time comes, all of us will die one way or the other. The most important thing we must ask ourselves while we are still alive is “Have I made right with God?”
I think it is not right to publicly cheer Dahmer or Duch who embraced Christianity as families of victims they afflicted are still licking their wounds. Cheering for Al Megrahi when he landed in Libya is putting salt in the wounds for the victims’ families. Let us all be sensitive to lives affected by these senseless crimes but look to God for His amazing grace to overcome the grief as well as to forgive.