Something To Keep In Mind, Or 1 Of A Thousand Posts You’ll Skim On Osama Today

I want to offer up some brief thoughts for us all to keep in mind as we endlessly discuss Osama Bin Laden’s killing. This is nothing political, it is just an appeal for us to remember our Christian faith as we work through the issue.

  1. We celebrate life, not death. Death was not apart of God’s design for life on earth. Though I understand the significance of this event – cheering death doesn’t seem right. We celebrate resurrection and new life, which comes from a death, but we still celebrate life. Even when we celebrate Jesus’ death we are really celebrating his Resurrection – for without that his death is only that.
  2. We forgive so we don’t need revenge to satisfy us. We don’t require justice. Revenge gains us nothing. It’s an age old lie that we’re always tempted into. Revenge seems sweet, it seems to offer relief – but it’s a fallacy. We say that Osama’s death will help us heal but I have to wonder – through revenge? Through death? Loving and forgiving our enemies is not contingent on getting some kind of justice or revenge.

Though I understand the symbolic meaning of this event, I believe we cannot allow ourselves to forget these truths, especially as we publicly process this story. We are the people of love, forgiveness and reconciliation.

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28 Responses to Something To Keep In Mind, Or 1 Of A Thousand Posts You’ll Skim On Osama Today

  1. Good Morning, Charlie,
    I don’t have time to wrote a whole lot, but I thought you might want to have a look at this.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/paul-raushenbush/celebrating-a-death_b_856124.html

    My first thought was that I wasn’t sure how to react, but truth be told, in my heart I was happy about it. Not saying I’m right, just being honest about how it is.
    Anyway…I thought the blog I linked you to explained how I’m feeling pretty well.

    Glad to talk to you. I don’t know enough about your previous post to get involved in firestorm, LOL, but I’ve been reading along.

    How’s the job hunt going?
    :0)
    Jane

    • I definitely can understand why this causes exhilaration for some people. I live in Oregon, not New York (though I was in PA when 9/11 happened) so I don’t know the unbelievably deep pain the people there feel as a result of the attack. I get it, but I’m still uncomfortable with celebrating death and revenge. I’ve been watching the news all morning – and this is revenge for a lot of people. I’m of course speaking to Christians in this post – and so my message is to them – can we celebrate revenge? We are definitely having our emotions pulled in different directions today.

      the job hunt is rough – nothing, nadda.

  2. Jeremy's Confessions says:

    I think these are great reminders. Life not death. I think we also need to remember something else. This may change nothing. This may only serve to rally more terrorism. These people who hate us may only feel that much more certain about their cause

  3. David says:

    I am never happy about death, however; it often does come to those the live by the sword. One of the dangers of being a tyrant.

    It still doesn’t make me happy. I was not able to watch the hanging of Saddam Hussein. In fact I was not able to listen to the terrified calls that came from the plane that crashed in PA on 9/11 either. My feelings do not preclude the fact that we have a just God that prescribes death for those that purposely take lives.

    God gave OBL a chance to repent, and have forgiveness, I hope he chose it. However; I suspect that he didn’t. We may celebrate life, but there are consequences to the sins within those lives; the wages of sin is death. Somehow Americans don’t seem to like that part of the Bible. They just want the nice parts: grace mercy, forgiveness. mushy love without responsibility and justice for those they think should have it. God’s justice is perfect.

    • I definitely agree that he lived by the sword, as you say we know what happens when someone lives by the sword.

      what does it mean that God’s justice is perfect? I agree, but I disagree that death is apart of that justice.

      • David says:

        As you stated, death was never part of the plan, and I suppose neither is sin. But the justice of God demands punishment for sin – or forgiveness through Jesus. Pick one. I believe OBL did not choose Jesus.; if he had, it wouldn’t have mattered if he died or not, he would have lived.

  4. Jeff says:

    It doesn’t bother me in the least that he has been killed. Justice is a good thing. I don’t think they can kill too many of them. Love is good, war is sometimes necessary.

  5. Darius says:

    Justice and vengeance are not the same thing. We can and should always cheer when justice is done. It’s a great day!

  6. Su says:

    Well said. I saw your title before I posted this morning, but didn’t have time to read it. Although I did consider stealing your title, but decided that would be plagiarism. ;)

    God reserves judgment to himself. I don’t think that we can be emotionless about this event, but neither do I think that shouting “Praise God” because someone, even an evil someone, died, is a good thing. It’s hard to be silent in the internet era, because we’ve become so accustomed to sharing our collective thoughts on everything. But last night I had to go quiet because I didn’t feel that I had anything appropriate to say.

  7. Carla says:

    Hey Charlie, You pointed out my thoughts exactly. Rejoicing in death, especially a violent death seems to go against the Gospel of love, forgiveness, and redemption. I understand that the Gospel also proclaims the justice of God. I’m fairly certain that this was not ordained by God, it was ordained by the US military and it took 10 years. If this was ordained by God I believe that there would have been prophecy and it wouldn’t have taken 10 years and multiple bombings that killed civilians. Also, for those who think that this was justice and not vengeance I have a couple of points. Firstly, I believe Americans believe in a different kind of justice for criminals than instant death. Secondly after 9/11 George W Bush stated that we would hunt down and make the person responsible pay for what they have done. It sounded very much like vengeance and not much like justice.

    • I think we justify our vengeance by dressing it up with words like justice – but it’s just revenge. You bring up a good point that we bring criminals to justice – which implies judgment which implies we are interacting with them, which implies not killing them instantly.

  8. Larry Hughes says:

    The way I look at it.

    This was Holy War ( Jahad) according to Osama. Justifiably we were in Holy War with a tyrant. He lost period as we defended our selves against tyrany. He was not any different from Hitler, or any other dictator. Sadly death usually is the end result for the looser.

  9. Carly Jo says:

    Charlie, I have difficulty saying it’s justice as well. I would never advocate that Osama did not deserve death, but knowing the things I’ve done, I wouldn’t advocate that for myself either. This is a real point of conflict, because I’m not murderous. But I have murdered people’s spirituality. I wonder if the blocks I put between people and God spiritually are on the same level of the life Osama has taken and the pain he has suffered. When I get humbled, it is a worthy thought.
    I think healing comes quicker, and sweeter through hugs than punches. Our nation needs healing. But, I was only 10 years old when this whole thing went down. I’m really not as emotionally invested, or experienced in these matters as a whole mess over other people. Thanks for the post though, you expressed what’s been on my mind all day long.

  10. David says:

    Charlie – now that I have sat on this for a day or so, I wrote a blog about it. I know that you are one of my regular readers, but I would like to have a deeper discussion.

    http://fireandgrace.blogspot.com/2011/05/osama-bin-laden-and-jesus.html

    Praying for the job hunt. Sorry to hear that there is nothing yet. :(

  11. theoldadam says:

    There will always be evil in this world, and if we are to love our neighbors, we will have to protect them from that evil.

    I think that may be one of the reasons that Jesus told the disciples to sell their coats and buy swords.

  12. theoldadam says:

    Here’s Luther’s comments on whether ‘soldiers can be saved, too (or not):

    “When I think of a soldier fulfilling his office by punishing the wicked, killing the wicked, and creating so much misery, it seems an un-Christian work completely contrary to Christian love. But when I think of how it protects the good and keeps and preserves wife and child, house and farm, property, and honor and peace, then I see how precious and godly this work is; and I observe that it amputates a leg or a hand, so that the whole body may not perish.”

  13. Chris says:

    I’m not really hearing any calls for unrestrained cheers and jubilation over OBL’s death, in any Christian quarters. Here are some interesting quotes from some pretty notable conservative evangelicals.

    Justin Taylor- “If it’s true that “God’s emotional life is infinitely complex beyond our ability to fully comprehend,” it should be no surprise that his followers would reflect some of that complexity as well. After all, we are the people who are “sorrowful yet always rejoicing.”

    Al Mohler- “urges “sober satisfaction,” arguing that “the death of bin Laden was fully justified as an act of war, but not as an act of justice.” In particular he critiques the celebrations in the streets and points to the fact that “true justice” is often elusive in this world.”

    D. A. Carson- “He is an evil man, and he must be stopped, but he is a man, and we should take no pleasure in destroying him. Vengeance is the Lord’s alone.
    Do not offer the alternative, “Should we weep for Osama bin Laden or hold him to account for his genocide and prevent him from carrying out his violent intentions?”
    The right answer is yes.

    Most thoughtful Christians, I’m finding, are of the opinion that the execution of OBL, although within the boundaries of acceptable Biblical norms of justice, take no gleeful delight in the destruction of another being made in God’s image.

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