I’m hearing an unbelievable amount of discussion this week about how the followers of Jesus ought to view the death of Osama bin Laden. And since one friend just wrote and asked me to please comment, I will. Please bear in mind that this is my personal conviction based on the Jesus I know in my heart as well as the one I read about in the scriptures.
I am relieved that a mass murderer is no longer able to manufacture further terrorism against innocent people. A man who chose to live by the sword, has died by the sword. Hopefully justice in some form has been served, and that of course is a good thing. But it’s nearly impossible to know for sure with the various conflicting reports of the media and the Obama administration.
However, seeing my compatriots gloating and dancing in the streets makes me sad. It feels like our hearts have sunk to the same level as the cold-hearted Jihadists who have declared us to be their enemy. As a follower of Jesus, I want to be like Him, and try as I may, I cannot imagine the Servant-King dancing and gloating over the death of any man. On the contrary, God says, “I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked would turn from his way and live.” (Ezekiel 31:11) It’s a well known maxim that if we persist in hating our enemies, we will become just like them. And that, I fear, is exactly what is happening with many us.
7 thoughts on “The death of the wicked”
I agree, Don. While justice ultimately prevailed in regards to Bin Laden’s cowardly acts of terror that robbed many families of loved ones, we know the evil at work in him didn’t get buried at sea. So perhaps dancing in the streets is a bit premature. I find it hard to think dancing when others getting what they deserve in light of my personal contribution to the hindering of love in God’s good world through my own sins.
I also wonder if the followers of Jesus in the first century were asking God to judge Saul of Tarsus for his acts of terror perpetrated against Christians. No one, apparently, is outside of the reach of Christ’s mercy (take you and me, for example!). I am reminded that much of the New Testament was penned by an ex-terrorist hell-bent on killing others according to what he believed to be the will of god.
Perhaps they were living by the words of Jesus:
“You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst.” ~ Jesus (Matthew 5 – the Message)
In light of God’s forgiveness in Christ, we can do the same…
Powerful insights! I never made the connection with Paul being a terrorist! Are you back to blogging yet? You’re such a great writer, and I always learn something from you. Think about it, OK? Love to you guys and a mother’s day hug to Christie!
Were the early Christians asking God to judge Saul of Tarsus? They could well have done. Every sin committed by every individual is, and must be, judged by God. It will be forgiven by His mercy if the perpetrator repents, and it stands to be punished for as long as he does not. And in the case of Paul of Tarsus, God chose a most extraordinary intervention to bring him to his senses. He did not have to do this, but we thank Him that He did.
Among the things Paul of Tarsus wrote is well applied to bin Laden’s idolatrous profession (as a Sunni Muslim) that the Qur’an is the uncreated word of God and this equal to God Himself.
“Wherefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts unto uncleanness, that their bodies should be dishonored among themselves: for that they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.” (Romans 1:24-26)
I have been wrestling with writing since I read your blog and we talked. Like you, I can’t imagine Jesus dancing or gloating over the death of any man. Likewise, though bin Laden’s death seems to be some form of justice, we also need to remember that the Lord says,”Vengeance is mine.” We are called to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us, following Jesus’ example of asking the Father to forgive those who participated in his death because “they know not what they do”.
I like Sean’s observation that Saul of Tarsus was a terrorist, too, changed only by the drama of Damascus. And what about the Crusaders? Weren’t they “terrorists” who thought they could change men’s hearts through threats and violence? Repentance comes from the inside out, not the other way around.
The jihadists have believed a lie, and their deception goes all the way back to Ishmael and Isaac. Read Genesis, chapters 15-21 and note that God promised to make a great nation of Ishmael as well as Isaac, but when Hagar and her son were sent into the wilderness, a root of bitterness took hold in the hearts of the Ishmaelites. Bitterness breeds unforgiveness, and unforgiveness breeds hatred, and hatred breeds murder, which in thought, word or deed are all the same to God. And so, if we harbor hatred in our hearts toward anyone, are we any different than those we judge and condemn? I think not.
I have a Muslim ex-husband and Muslim stepchildren and grandchildren for whom I have prayed for 30 years and who are now coming to Christ. If I had not learned forgiveness for the pain of the past, I would be consumed with bitterness and hatred, and my heart would be no different than those who shed the blood of innocents or wish them dead. The cry of my heart is that those who live in darkness will see the great light of Christ, and I will continue to pray, go and do whatever the Father tells me toward that end.
As an aside, I would recommend Joel C. Rosenberg’s book, INSIDE THE REVOLUTION. A Messianic Jew, Rosenberg has spent years researching, interviewing and being involved with Muslims all over the world, including many former terrorists who have come to Christ. He has classified Muslims as Radicals, Reformers and Revivalists, and his documentation is impeccable, but I was most thrilled to read the testimonies of some of the millions of Muslims that are coming to Christ all over the world. You won’t read about it in the paper or see it on TV, but God has promised to pour out His Spirit on all flesh, and His Word will not return void!
We can only rejoice when Muslims come to Christ, as Jesus Himself said that there will be joy among the angels of heaven over one sinner who repents.
Were the Crusaders terrorists? Actually, they were professional soldiers waging a just defensive war on the initiative of Kings and Emperors. These were wars of a political nature, not wars of conversion. They were justly waged because the Muslim invaders committed the injustice of waging war for the establishment of their false religion. They qualified as Crusades (armed pilgrimages) once the Pope had called on Christians to participate, attaching a formula for the forgiveness of sins.
Muslims were not forced to convert by the Crusaders who conquered the Holy Land, and in Spain they were allowed to keep their religion and a measure of local autonomy until they were eventually expelled.
Thanks for the discussion, friends. I’ve learned something from each of you.
Perception may not be Truth, but it is reality to those who live it. Part of my previous piece was inadvertently omitted, so let me clarify. Having hundreds of years of hindsight to examine the Crusades, we can now more clearly understand what the journey to Jerusalem was all about – from the Christian perspective. I would, however, challenge any of you to examine that military campaign from the Muslim viewpoint. They were as intent on keeping the Holy Land as the pope’s followers were in seeing it restored to Christendom. The Saracens had gained the sacred grounds through bloodshed, just as Christians had lost them. Yes, the Crusades were military campaigns waged against Islamic foes, but from the Muslim point of view, the Crusaders were “terrorists” bent on dismantling the Islamic objective of world domination at any cost.
We’re still engaged in that age old battle of good VS evil as we hurl toward eternity. As Christians we know how the Book ends, but our goal is not world domination but rather winning the hearts of the lost for Christ, that they might share in His kingdom when we are no longer foes but family.
And that, as Paul Harvey would’ve said, is “the rest of the story”…