How did you respond to the news of Osama bin Laden’s demise? I heard about it after I dropped the kids at school this morning. The news of his death provides a teachable moment for our children about the justice of God and the heart of Jesus.
So, what was my reaction? Stunned, relieved, joyful… Joyful—is it okay for me, a follower of Jesus, to be joyful about the death of another? I think it depends on what I’m joyful about.
I rejoice that justice was realized. The knowledge that a man who remained committed to inflicting harm on innocent people can no longer hurt anyone is good news. I rejoice for the message that his death sends to the world: evil will always pay the ultimate price… it may take a while, but justice will be served.
At the same time, the heart of Jesus within me mourns the reality of a soul condemned to eternal torment. I know that many say he gets what he deserves. It’s true, but when compared to our Perfect and Holy God, eternal torment is what we all deserve. I wouldn’t wish hell for anyone… eternity is a very, very long time. Jesus died for you, for me, and yes, even for Osama bin Laden.
It appears OBL rejected Jesus to the end. Although he committed many horrific crimes, they all pale in comparison to rejecting God’s Son. Bin Laden’s actions on 9/11 were simply symptoms of a root problem: his open rejection the God of the Bible and His Son’s saving Grace. That’s the message I want my kids to hear and to ingrain in their hearts. Whenever they think of Osama bin Laden I want them to think:
1. Apart from the God of the Bible and Jesus Christ, man is capable of great evil.
2. God’s Justice will be done. We can’t hide from God. Our actions do have consequences.
By the time our kids come home from school today their heads will already be full of information about OBL’s death. It’s up to you and me to help them process that information and put it in perspective… Gods’ perspective. Point them to God’s Justice as well as His Mercy and Love. The Family Adventures at DG4kids.com can help. Let me know how it goes!!!!
Thank you for your deeply considered response to the death of Osama Bin Laden’s death. When I heard the news last night I felt relieved. Then I watched some news broadcasts where people were celebrating, yelling USA. I understand the feeling… We experienced such a deep, profound wound on 9/11. We celebrate the removal of the person that perpetrated the wound. I began to wonder at my relief, and at the celebratory tone of the reaction of others, and thought that perhaps the wounding is deepened by our utterly frail, human reaction. How would Jesus have responded to this event? Sometimes we need human “justice” but is human justice as important as divine? Absolutely not.
Then I began to think about this event on a more personal level. As you know, I am working with senior citizens now. There is one lady who doesn’t like me. (Imagine that)! She shows this dislike often, and in the company of others. Inside of me there is a person who wants to respond with the same level of spite that she puts out there for me. I want to annihilate her with my words, and I know I could if I gave in. Kathy, I have to fight that feeling hard…, and I have to fight the feeling that she doesn’t deserve a different response than my spite. I have made it a spiritual gymnastic now to pray for a graceful response to her, and from that great reservoir a true love bubbles up from inside for her. I can smile and ask how she is, and care about the response! I wonder what her experience is that brought her to this and I can pray that she find peace. I am so grateful for her in my life.
My point is, and here’s the rub for me, aren’t we called as a Christian nation, to respond in a Christian manner? Not with vengeance, but with love. We are no longer in an “eye for an eye” world, we are in a resurrected world where love is the deepest, truest thing. Shouldn’t the nation be called to Grace in these moments, especially if drawing that Grace up is hard? I am not saying that Bin Laden shouldn’t have been brought to human justice, because there is certainly a need for that in this world. I am saying that relief, and celebration at the death of another of God’s creations eliminates the Graceful heart that I truly believe God calls us to.
Thank you again. I love that you wrote a considered and thoughtful response.
Great post! Putting the death in God’s perspective–that is exactly right! And you are so right–we all deserve to spend an eternity in hell, but for the grace of God and the blood of Jesus, and our “Yes,” we are saved. It’s hard to fathom that God loves Osama bin Laden, but we know it’s true because that’s what He tells us in the Bible. How much bin Laden’s actions, and his continued rejection of Christ, must have grieved our God… Such an amazing opportunity to discuss these thoughts with our kids!!
Thank you, thank you for sharing your thoughts Dawn! You’ve encouraged me with your example of loving someone who’s difficult to love… don’t we all have people like that in our lives! What a blessing you are to her (whether she knows it or not!) and what a wonderful opportunity for you to draw from the limitless reservoir of God’s love! I’m soooo thankful for that reservoir!!
Many have said that we are no longer a “Christian nation”. I don’t know what data is used to determine whether we are or whether we aren’t. What I do know is that God’s people are to reflect God’s heart and I was encouraged to hear that many around our country felt as we do: glad that justice is done but also sad because of the eternal realities.
Thanks Paula! We all need to be encouraging one another as we raise up the next generation (literally!).