Fidel Castro, the dictator of Cuba for half a century, died yesterday at the age of 90. Many people around the world, citizens and political leaders alike, have rejoiced at Castro’s death. On the other hand, many have mourned over Castro. This is mind-boggling to me but it is not the topic I have chosen to write about. The question at hand actually concerns the Christian faith.
As a Christian, how should I react to Fidel Castro’s death? Can I be happy that an evil man has passed away and is facing his Maker? Should I feel sympathy for Fidel Castro that he is most likely spending an eternity in Hell? People who have been oppressed by the Cuban leader have been waiting for his death for decades. In Miami, Florida, Cuban-Americans took to the streets to celebrate the former dictator’s passing. Is this celebration something that God would want or approve of?
A friend of mine proposed a question that made me think about my position. If Castro is in Hell because he is an evil man and he was not saved by Jesus, wouldn’t this apply to everyone else who did not place their trust in Jesus and did not follow His commands? The easy answer is yes.
As a Christian, I believe that entering Heaven and receiving eternal life is dependent on the individual accepting Jesus as their Savior. It does not matter how good or how bad a person is, accepting Jesus as our Savior and repenting of our sins is the only way God’s free gift of eternal life can be given to us. Yet, I think it is vastly important for Christians to make a distinction between ruthless human beings like Hitler and Castro and other unrepentant people who may be our close friends or next door neighbors.
Scripture does say that “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). It does not matter what the sin is, everyone needs forgiveness. But, how are we supposed to feel about those who are inexplicably evil? We can actually rejoice in a sense. Psalms 58:10 states, “The godly will rejoice when they see injustice avenged....” What we rejoice about is not an earthly justice or even human vengeance. We rejoice that evil is being held accountable and we rejoice at the ultimate end of those who harm the innocent and have spit in the face of God.
The Bible states, “There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a person who stirs up conflict in the community” (Proverbs 6:16-19).
It is not hard to pick out which characteristics Fidel Castro embodied and it is not hard to know that God will not withhold His wrath from those who commit evil when Scripture says “He will repay them for their sins and destroy them for their wickedness” (Psalms 94:23). Jesus tells us to pray for our enemies (Matthew 5:44), that the Lord does not wish for anyone to perish (2 Peter 3:9), and that God does not like to see the wicked die (Ezekiel 18:23).
However, God knows this will not always be the case and even though He would rather see people be saved than destroyed, He has no sympathy for evil in the slightest. God makes it clear that a reason why Jesus came to die for the world’s sins was to destroy the devil and the works of the devil (1 John 3:8).
While I would never wish Hell on anyone, it does not pain me to know God holds evil people, whoever they may be, accountable and that ultimately justice is served by God and God alone. I rejoice for God's justice and the fact that the innocent people of Cuba may now have some form of hope.
Maybe I am wrong about Fidel Castro. Maybe he came to truly know Jesus as his Savior before his passing. This would be great news. No one but God knows for certain where Castro is right now and God is the ultimate judge and ultimate authority. What we do know though is that Castro’s tyranny has finally ended, God will continue to hold evil accountable, and we can rejoice in that because of what Scripture has told us. "The house of the wicked will be destroyed, but the tent of the godly will flourish" (Proverbs 14:11).