Osama Bin Laden is dead.
That’s not really meant to be a statement of fact, because by now it’s extremely old news. It’s really more of a measuring rod.
When you hear that phrase, what does it do inside of you?
I’ve been watching Facebook,Twitter, reading other blogs, and have stayed dialed into major network news for the last 24 hours.
It appears the responses to the worldwide obituary run the gamut of human emotion:
- Predominately there’s an expression of glee, in exuberance and celebration.
- To a lesser degree there is an expression of relief, with cautious optimism.
- Yet others, in a much smaller minority from what I can tell, are actually conflicted.
By conflicted I do not mean there is an outpouring of sympathy toward Osama Bin Laden. Far from it!
But, in several expressions I have read and heard, there is a difficulty in reconciling the spontaneous joy over the news of another man’s death (undoubtedly evil though he was), and the “Christian” call to be a person of grace and mercy.
The emotions on both sides of the fence are very real, but seem to be contradictory. The only normal response is frustration, confusion, hurt and… well, being conflicted.
I have no desire to be a global psychologist, but I must admit I find myself in that minority of the conflicted.
Here is why:
- I believe the world is a better place without the leadership of a mass murderer who cloaks his “mission” under the veil of God. I believe he and his actions were evil, reprehensible and totally deserving of punishment afforded by the authorities that are over us (Romans 13). I do not weep for the life of this terrorist at all.
- I believe God cares, loves and pursues even the worst of us. I’ve preached it before, so I better stand on it today, that no one’s sin is worse than anyone else’s sin in the eyes of God. In our human economy it does not seem to make sense that my gluttony at the buffet after church on Sunday was just as much a sin as acts of terror and murder. But in God’s economy, sin is sin.
- I believe that justice should be carried out, future lives protected, and the world made safer by the absence of one of evil’s chief architects for the current generation.
- I believe God’s people should take on the character of Christ (Philippians 2:5), who was willing to empty Himself and make Himself nothing becoming obedient even to the point of death, offering forgiveness even to those who were crucifying Him in the moment.
My problem… everything I believe doesn’t seem to hold hands. So, I’m conflicted.
I’m sure I will wrestle with this in the days to come, but the only resolution to my current conflict is this:
It is NOT wrong to find relief in the justice that has been done, but it IS wrong to elongate acts of terror and hatred by allowing a hater to turn us into haters.
You and I, we are no terrorists. We’re better than that. We should refuse to think, talk, act and portray ourselves as they would. If there is anything beyond our sense of relief, we should be fostering a sense of pity.
Pity for a life so wasted, a mind so clouded and the soul so lost… for eternity.
If we hate and are consumed with revenge and anger, in one sense Osama Bin Laden has had a victory as well today. For he would’ve made us a little more like him.
Our brave soldiers have sacrificed too much, thousands of families have lost everything, and our country has suffered too long to settle for less than what we should experience on a day like this.
I’ve seen it too many times when I pastored in Texas. An execution date, live on television from one of the state penitentiaries. A victim’s family gathered around to witness the demise of the condemned. Before, during and after… family members and friends of the victim spewing venom and hatred. It seemed as though the day they had longed for over so many years had not brought peace.
Don’t they deserve peace? Yes! But, the problem is peace is not found in justice. Only justice is found in justice.
Peace is found in forgiveness.
I guess it’s true, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.” (Romans 12:19)
The only way for us to truly defeat Osama Bin Laden and his kind is to be satisfied that justice is done, and struggle towards forgiveness in our own hearts.
A forgiveness that is undeserved. A forgiveness that does not eliminate the consequences of their actions. But, a forgiveness that will release “us” from a prison of hurt that can hold us captive even after the threat is gone.
That is the holy conflict, the heavenly tension and the discipline difficulty of being a Christian in a broken world.
I believe a Christian can celebrate a victory over evil like this. But, followers of Christ must do the even harder work of guarding our hearts so that we are not corrupted by the same hatred that was levied upon us.
Thank You for delivering us from this evil.
Thank You for the courage and strength You have given so many service men and women in this long fight.
Thank You that in our darkest moments, You were not absent.
Now, please help us. The physical battle is over, but the spiritual is still in full swing.
Let us not be marked in the way of this world, but the way of the cross.
May You free us of our fears, hurts, anger and pride.
May we become Your people, full of grace and mercy.
In Jesus name, amen.”