The Death of Bin Laden – Thoughts on The Gospel, Justice and Your Neighbor
Osama (Usama) bin Laden is reportedly dead (May 2, 2011 – ae 54). At least Obama administration officials say DNA evidence proves he is dead with 99.9 percent confidence. No telling what the .1 percent will give rise to?
There is probably not much more for me to say that has not already been said, but after sleeping on the news, here are some terse thoughts I thought on the “historical event.”
Shocked! To begin with, I was surprised to learn that he was even alive. I suspected that he was dead already from his alleged poor health or from being buried alive in a cave that was struck by a bunker buster bomb. He alluded capture and death for ten years.
A Theology of Justice and Vengeance I hope that from this we can learn something of a robust biblical theology of justice. Watching the tweets and status updates fly last night and this morning reveals clearly that some people are trying to see this through the lens of the whole counsel of God and others see it by way of the passages that best sum up what they think justice is. Don’t misunderstand me, justice always wins because God is sovereign, but is this what God wanted? Be careful how you answer.
Is This the Death Nail (Knell) of Terrorism? This is not the end of the “war on terrorism.” Terrorism of any sort is not about one evil man, but about the evil within each man, woman and child. Hate and murder will continue until Jesus returns to deal decisively with it.
What Am I Supposed to Think and Feel? I feel the tension of this moment. Bin Laden will face true and absolute justice before the One true God, just as one day every person will (2 Cor. 5:10). I rejoice that God is just and deals justly, but I rejoice not that Bin Laden appears to have chosen eternal wrath rather than eternal life. I have in the past rejoiced in the death of my enemies, but God is reshaping me in this. Jesus shows us a better way by dying for His enemies, and we all once were His enemy. God has no pleasure in the death of the wicked. Should I (Proverbs 24:17; Ezekiel 33:11)? On Twitter I read that a six-year-old asked his father: “Why are people supposed to be happy if he (Bin Laden) didn’t know Christ?” Enough asked.
The Gospel and Terrorism My hope would be that this would propel us with the gospel. Would it not have been better that someone would have reached Bin Laden with the gospel before He became radicalized? The Muslim world won’t be saved by killing Muslims. There is a time and place for government to protect and enforce laws, even in a fallen world, but we need to make sure we are on God’s side, accomplishing His agenda, not the other way around. I’m afraid that many of us will find one day that our agenda was not His.
Your American Neighbor and Osama Bin Laden Last thought. Bin Laden will give an account to the One who judges justly and rightly avenges all injustice (All injustice is ultimately against God.) But the reality is this, every unbelieving and unsaved person is in the same boat as Bin Laden. Bin Laden could have been saved, even right up until the last moment of having breath in his lungs. But if he wasn’t then he is lost forever. In that regard he is no different than the cordial, tax-paying and law-abiding citizen who is your neighbor. Both Bin Laden and your unbelieving neighbor will face the wrath of God. Is your neighbor a “good person”? Was Bin Laden an evil man? Apart from Christ, Bin Laden and your neighbor are in the same boat and are no different. They are both sinners before a perfectly holy and righteous God. Most people however don’t believe this, because their actions speak louder than their knowledge. There is something to be learned here. When you see your neighbor who is without Christ, think Bin Laden. Then ask God to put the desire within you to make sure that your neighbor doesn’t follow Bin Laden, because that is the reality your neighbor is headed for apart from the righteousness of Christ.