The Death of Osama Bin Laden: Tragedy and Joy
The death of Osama Bin Laden is a tragedy in the midst of the divine comedy. Mixed emotions are fitting. Evil exists, but cannot triumph. Many Christians are struggling with how to feel. We shouldn't rejoice over the death of our enemies, right? But this seems to be a good thing when a mass murderer is brought to justice. Here is my brief attempt to wrestle with this.
It is a tragedy:
- Because Osama Bin Laden has killed so many people, and has enlisted the financial and human help of so many others. The fact that action was even necessary is a sad, sobering reality. He was a man that murdered, and then celebrated the murder. Tragic.
- It is a tragedy because he is a human being made in the image of God who wasted his life in pursuit of hatred, vengeance and idolatry.
- It is a tragedy because many people will be so focused on his evil that they will be blinded to their own personal demons. Instead of repenting of their own selfishness, hatred and hypocrisy, they will rest that they are not as bad as Osama.
- It is a tragedy because his life has been one that has destroyed so much peace and instilled so much fear and hatred all over the world. He was not just a Terrorist; he is the architect of a machine of terror.• It is a tragedy because it took so long to catch him, in spite of a 25 million dollar bounty, in large part because of the fear he has invoked in so many.
- It is a tragedy because the killing is not done. Many of his followers will unite to take revenge in his name and continue to kill Christians and Muslims, westerners and middle easterners in scores as he did.• It is a tragedy because there are many Americans and many American Christians who can only conceive of a military response to Islam rather than a response that involves sending the gospel of peace. Many who are rejoicing now will not be praying for the unreached peoples in the Middle East.
- It is a tragedy because much of this will stoke American pride in a bad way, and lead us to trust more in Seal Team Six than in the God of mercy and justice.
It is something to rejoice over because:
- This is a great confirmation of the truth that in God’s world you reap what you sow. “Whoever digs a pit will fall into it, and a stone will come back on him who starts it rolling.” (Proverbs 26:27) It helps us to avoid the tantalizing deception that evil actions have no consequences “Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.” (Eph. 5:6) “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.” (Gal. 6:7)
- It is something to rejoice in because in this act God is revealing something of his Holy Justice. It is not simply that he is just, his justice is artful, even ironic. “The Lord has made himself known; he has executed judgment; the wicked are snared in the work of their own hands.” (Psalm 9:16) “For all who take the sword will perish by the sword.” (Matt 26:52)
- Because for the many thousands of murdered families and victims there is a small step toward justice. Some will sleep in peace this week for the first time in a decade.
- It is something to rejoice over because it is an answer to the prayers of many of the people he has slaughtered and oppressed. Throughout scripture and history, the advent of God’s mercy often comes in the arrival of destruction on their wicked oppressors. “He overthrew Pharaoh and his host in the Red Sea, for his steadfast love endures forever;” (Psalm 136:15)
- It is something to rejoice over, because president Obama actually gave the order to carry out this plan. He has been accused of being too soft on terror. And maybe that has been true, but it wasn’t true this week.
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