Monday, May 2, 2011

A Christian Response to the Death of Osama Bin Laden

"But I say to you that listen, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you, and pray for those who abuse you." (Luke 6:27)

Today I woke to the news that Osama Bin Laden -- #1 on America's list of "Most Wanted" -- was dead. Part of me was glad: for the last 9+ years, our nation has waged a costly war on terrorism largely due to his influence, and as part of our response to the deadly chain of events orchestrated by him which took place on 9/11/2001.

You may remember that those attacks united Americans in a way that no other recent event had done -- evidenced by the many American flags that popped up all over the place for a while after the attacks. Consequently, since that time (for the last 9 years), I have flown a miniature flag in my front yard by our mailbox, vowing not to remove it until Bin Laden was no more. Now that he's gone, I struggle again with whether or not to remove it -- it was, after all, a flag flown in support of our nation, not just as a statement against a particular enemy. So for now... the flag will remain.

And yet, another dilemma remains... while part of me is glad that Bin Laden is no more, at the same time I have struggled with whether "gladness" was an appropriate response by a Christian pastor to a death... even to the death of someone as violent and twisted as Bin Laden -- He was, after all, a "child of God," too! Perhaps you've shared this same struggle. What I've come to realize today is that while we may be "relieved" by this news, it is not something we need to celebrate too much.

What it instead points out to me is not only the brokenness and sinfulness of our world, but also the broken and sinful nature of my own heart: we live in a world which contains people like Bin Laden who exercise their free will to terrorize; and a world in which even we as God's people struggle with the "appropriateness" of their demise. This struggle highlights the fact that we are all sinners in need of God's grace... me, you, my neighbors up and down my street, my fellow church members, our local, state and national leaders (including our President, regardless of what political party you identify with), the people who cut us off on the freeway, and yes... even Osama Bin Laden.

So, whatever your feelings about this "victory," let it be a reminder to you of your own human frailty -- that we are all dust, that none of us is who he or she needs to be, and so ALL of us stand in need of a Savior. Jesus came to be that Savior. Have you allowed him in (even in that dark place in your own heart that secretly struggles with things like "celebrating" the death of Bin Laden)? Invite him in today, and allow Him to become the "Prince of Peace" of your life.

Perhaps the best Christian response I've seen to the death of Bin Laden was sent to me by our Minister of Music and Worship Arts -- CLICK HERE to read and pray this powerful prayer, and let it impact your life the way it has mine. Always remember that God loves you, and I do too!


  1. I have had conversations with many folks who have had this same struggle. Perhaps "relief" is the best way to describe it. But, in no way do I feel celebratory. I saw another quote -- partially attributed to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: "I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that."

  2. Great quote from MLK! Yes, "relief" is certainly an appropriate response, as well. What truly bothers me are all the people -- such as a some late night hosts, celebrities, and others -- who seem to be revelling in bin Laden's death. In my opinion, that is cocky and arrogant. As bad and as warped as bin Laden was, many of us are also warped in different ways. The Bible points out, after all, that we are all sinners standing in need of grace (Ephesians 2:5), and that therefore NONE of us has any room to be too cocky or celebratory about the demise of someone else, no matter how evil they were. In another example, when the woman was caught in adultery, Jesus challenged her accusers with the following question that seems appropriate here... "You who are without sin, cast the first stone" (John 8:7). I would say the same to those in our society who would wish to revel and celebrate this death.