A Christian Response to bin Laden's Death

May 3rd, 2011

I discovered the news of bin Laden’s death early Monday morning. Carolyn and I had the weekend away by ourselves with limited media access and I had missed the President’s announcement Sunday evening and had not yet seen the jubilant celebrations of American crowds that had gathered at various venues around the country. The headline appeared on my computer screen, “Osama bin Laden is dead!” As an American I felt a sense of resolution that Bin Laden’s taunting reign of terror had finally come to an end and his cowardly corpse disposed of in the depths of the sea. In no way can his death make up for the thousands of individual lives and the families impacted by his demonic actions that created the devastation of 9/11. But in some sense justice has been served. We are all responsible for our actions and if one is not committed to live by grace then they must eventually experience the consequences of God’s law.

To be perfectly honest, I am glad that Osama bin Laden’s personal voice for the mandate of hate has been silenced, but I am also reminded of the biblical mandate for our attitude of response: “Do not gloat when your enemies fall; when they stumble, do not let your heart rejoice” (Proverbs 24:17). As Jesus followers we are called to demonstrate a peculiar way, a radical way that runs counter to our instinctive demand for an “eye for an eye.” Jesus said that the children of his Kingdom would be living representatives of a higher moral law. “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in Heaven. He causes his sun to rise on evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matthew 5:43-45).

It is rather ironic that the Pontiff of peace, Pope John Paul II was beatified on the same day that Osama bin Laden was killed. The Vatican’s statement released on Monday represents the Christian spirit in which John Paul II acted as Christ’s ambassador during his tenure as Pope:

"Osama bin Laden, as we all know, bore the most serious responsibility for spreading divisions and hatred among populations, causing the deaths of innumerable people, and manipulating religions for this purpose. In the face of a man's death, a Christian never rejoices, but reflects on the serious responsibilities of each person before God and before men, and hopes and works so that every event may be the occasion for the further growth of peace and not of hatred."

I am thankful that Osama bin Laden is gone and can no longer be an inciting voice of evil. But as a Christian, I align my heart with the heart of Father God who mourns over a wayward son. Pray and work for peace!

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