Monday, May 2, 2011

The Death of Osama Bin Laden


Today is a day of celebration in America as we learn the news that our arch enemy, Osama Bin Laden, has been killed in battle.  While the temptation is there for me to join with everyone else to dance for and celebrate our enemy's death, I need to examine what happened in the light of Christ who lives in me.  Please do not mistake what I am going to write today as a belief that he did not deserve to die.  The man declared war on our nation and committed horrible crimes killing many innocent men, women, and children.  Earthly justice cried out for his death and our government used the authority granted to it by God to punish evil, even with the sword if necessary.  Despite the righteousness of the kill, I do not believe it is something we rejoice.  The impetus for today's post came by way of a Facebook post made by my sister-in-law and I think that it really speaks for itself.
Say to them: '[As] I live,' says the Lord GOD, 'I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?'  Ezekiel 33:11 NKJV
And lest you think God was only speaking about certain people at a certain time, this message is repeated in the New Testament.
 The Lord is not slack concerning [His] promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.  2 Peter 3:9 NKJV
So how should a Christian respond to the death of Bin Laden?  How should we react when the ultimate justice is given out at any time, including such things as the death penalty?  What I believe is that we should acknowledge what happened as necessary justice, but mourn for the fact that said justice was necessary.  The fact is that we are to mourn when anyone dies in their sins.  We are to mourn because, for those, the blood of Christ was spilled for no effect.  That free gift of salvation offered by Jesus, even to them, was not accepted.  What we have instead of the glorious miracle of the redemption offered in Jesus Christ, we have the sad case of a proud wicked man who would rather die in his own sins.  In the case of Bin Laden, it represents the victory of the lies of Islam over the truth of Jesus.  That is not something to be rejoiced.

This victory I speak of is not an ultimate victory over Jesus.  Bin Laden along with everyone else who died in their own sins will ultimately kneel before Jesus and proclaim Him to be Lord, but then it will be too late.  They will kneel and receive their judgment .  They will kneel with the knowledge that soon after they will be cast in the lake of fire to forever pay for the sins that Jesus wanted to pay for on the Cross.  It is not a time of rejoicing.  God takes no pleasure in judgment.  God only pronounces judgment as a last resort when there is no other option.  Choosing to stand before God in your own sins leave Him no choice but to take that punishment out on you.

I hear the refrain already of those celebrating the entrance of Bin Laden into Hell.  While the world celebrates his demise (not realizing that many of those who cheer will join him there), we Christians should not.  We should not rejoice in someone dying in their sins but pray for their salvation.  For Bin Laden, it is too late, but for many others it is not. I know it is hard to pray for someone who has ruthlessly killed so many, but that is what we are called to do. We called to love our enemy, to bless those who curse us, to do good for those who do bad to us.  Just as Jesus died for us while we were still His enemies, we need to pray for others while they are still ours.  If we claim to have done all of that yet still rejoice in the death of our enemy, then how sincere can we say that our prayers were?  Praying out of obligation for something we do not want is not really praying at all.  While we may have lost Bin Laden, we can still pray for the rest of those who followed him. 

For some that thought may turn your stomach.  Some of you may have lost people on 9/11 or in the subsequent wars.  Some of you may have known someone who got sick in the aftermath.  Some of you may have fought in the war or were part of the clean up.  I know those emotions run deep and the yearning for justice is strong. I want you to think, though, who the real enemy is.  Is it Bin Laden or his cohorts?  Surely they perpetuated the crime and bear responsibility for what happened.  Surely even if they came to Christ, earthly justice would still be necessary.  But one must realize that the real enemy is the Satan-inspired ideology the spurned those wicked acts.  We killed Bin Laden, but there will still be terrorism.  Even if we killed all of Al Qaida, there would still be terrorism.  The fact is that as long as sin reins in the hearts of men, there will be terrorism, murders, thievery, and every other kind of crime that exists now.  We will not eliminate crime by eliminating criminals.  In fact, crime will not be eliminated until sin is eliminated and that will not happen until the return of our Lord.  The real enemy is sin and the father of sin.   The real enemy is Satan.  If you want victory over him, the answer is not in bringing down his latest puppet, but in turning his puppet against him.  The real victory is not resorting to sin in our own lives in response to the sin committed against our lives.  The real victory is in snatching that soul firmly in his grasp for the Lord.  And that is what we need to pray for.

Today the nation celebrates justice more than ten years in the making.  It was justice well-deserved and while I do not mourn his fate, I do mourn it had to come to that.  The real justice will come on the day he stands before the Great White Throne of Judgment and the payment for every sin he ever committed, every soul he turned to hatred and murder, and every life he is responsible taking will be due.  That payment will be paid for eternally.  Many rejoice in that, but I do not.  I know that God's judgment is righteous and just and I know he is getting what his sin has earned him, but I would have preferred him to repent and come to Jesus.  The Word of God tells us that God feels the same.  Justice was a bullet in the head and an unceremonious burial at sea, but victory would have been him repenting of his ways and proclaiming to his followers and to the world "Jesus is Lord."  Justice makes him a martyr for his lies and only serves for harden others in their wrong beliefs, but victory would have made him a beacon for the Lord and a witness to others following the lie for the truth and power that is in Christ Jesus.  I do not know about you, but I would much rather pray for victory.
"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.  John 3:16-17 NKJV

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