So Osama bin Laden has finally met the end promised to him almost 10 years ago, and it looks like he ran out of time to become an Apostle bin Laden.
As followers of Jesus, how should we view this momentous event? I think there are a few ways.
First, as an American, I am exultant and jubilant. An evil man who perpetrated the gruesome murder of thousands of innocent men, women and children, inspired many others to do the same, and indirectly caused the death and maiming of many American servicemen and women, has met his maker and paid the earthly price for his actions. It is a completely unexpected and stunning victory for our country. The fact that the mission went off flawlessly, with no innocent Pakistanis being hurt, and no American soldiers being killed, just makes it that much sweeter. The good guys won one. As a matter of state, the killing of Osama bin Laden was justified, appropriate, and necessary.
And on a visceral level I am extremely gratified that the last thing this scumbag saw on earth was not the comforting faces of family and followers gathered around his deathbed, but the face of a brave American soldier, pointing an assault rifle at his face.
It’s a great day to be an American. For the first time in quite a long time.
But how should we look at such an event from the point of view of a follower of Jesus? Should it be any different? Here is my humble opinion:
First, the God of the Universe is on the side of the innocent and the downtrodden. A man reaps what he sows, and those who live by the sword shall die by the sword. Jesus said it would be better “to be thrown into the sea with a large stone around your neck than to cause one of these little ones to sin.” (Lk 17:2) That phrase “little ones” does not only refer to children, but also to those of weak or stumbling faith. Most people who strap a bomb to themselves and blow up are impressionable young men who have been mentored by their “elders” to do so. This man certainly preyed on people like that, didn’t he? And fittingly, almost prophetically even, his body was in fact dumped into the sea with heavy weights tied around it. Seriously people, you can’t make this stuff up!
The very real forces of evil were dealt a blow today, and I don’t believe there is anything sinful in the act of killing bin Laden. I also don’t think it is wrong to feel good about his death as the just deserts of an evil life. As long as those sentiments aren’t born of revenge or “blood honor” I think they’re perfectly fine.
On a deeper level, though, I think we must also grieve at the loss of yet another of God’s beloved children meeting their demise while embracing hatred, poison, and terror. Whatever happens on “the other side,” Osama bin Laden willfully and repeatedly chose a path of evil, of inhumanity, and of anti-God while here on earth. He had an entire lifetime full of opportunities to turn around, to humble himself, and to learn mercy and grace. His was a life lived in vain and utterly wasted, and that is an eternal tragedy.
Think about this: our Lord loved (loves) Osama bin Laden exactly as much as he loves you. He made Osama bin Laden, planned his exact DNA sequence and lovingly knit him together in his mother’s womb. God gave him all kinds of wonderful gifts–wealth and privilege, good looks, and a forcefully magnetic charisma. He could have done so much good with his life. God does not delight in Osama’s death:
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. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die?Ezekiel 33:11
God is not willing that ANY should perish, but that ALL should come to repentance (2 Pet 3:9) and embrace eternal life–the life that is truly life, full of grace and hope and peace. Osama bin Laden totally rejected that view and instead threw his lot in with the father of lies.
So in our joy and happiness, let us at least keep a small corner in the back of our thoughts that weeps for the man who could have been. But wasn’t.
I personally believe that each one of these emotions I am feeling–the joy, the triumph, the satisfaction of justice delivered, and the grave awareness of the awful spiritual tragedy–each one of them is right, appropriate, and good.
But you know what really excited me about witnessing this event? It has very little to do with bin Laden himself.
Just take a look at all the people singing, dancing, and celebrating in the streets at Ground Zero and the White House last night upon hearing the news. All that joy being expressed, all those chants and spontaneous outbreaks of patriotic and victorious singing? All that unity and shared sense of right being done?
All that was being expressed over just one evil, directed mainly against one nation, being erased from the earth.
My friend, can you imagine what that day will be like when God finally stretches out His mighty hand across time and space and once and for all says “NO MORE!” to every wrong, every heartache, every cruelty, every exploitation, every humiliation, every injustice, every rape, every murder?
Can you just picture every tribe, every tongue, every nation, in every corner in all the universe, joining together, throwing inhibition to the wind in glorious victory, singing with one voice the praises of Good finally and for all time triumphing over evil?
I think I finally begin to dimly understand what the coming Day of the Lord will be like.
It’s going to be rapturous.
Did you feel the mountains tremble?
Did you hear the oceans roar?
When the people rose to sing of
Jesus Christ the risen one?
Did you feel the darkness tremble?
When all the saints join in one song
And all the streams flow as one river
To wash away our brokeness?
And here we see that God You’re moving.
A time of Jubilee is coming,
When young and old return to Jesus.
Fling wide your heavenly gates,
Prepare the way of the risen Lord…
Open up the doors and let the music play!
Let the streets resound with singing!
Songs that bring your hope,
Songs that bring your joy,
Dancers who dance upon injustice!Did You Feel The Mountains Tremble? Delirious?
Truth poorly defended loses not its truthfulness;
Falsehood aptly defended loses not its falsity.