How Should Christians Respond to the Death of bin Laden?

May 10, 2011 by     No Comments    Posted under: Blog, Forgiveness

The Christian blogosphere has been rife with articles about the proper Christian response to the killing of Osama Bin Laden. Many say that we should never celebrate the death of another human being, but rather, be sorrowful at the death of a man created in the image of God. But here’s a question I’ve yet to hear asked:

“How should Christians respond to the salvation of Osama bin Laden?”

You heard me correctly. If Osama Bid Laden repented and turned to the Lord in the hours or minutes before his death, then he’s in paradise. Just like the thief hanging on the cross next to Jesus.

Would you celebrate?

Of course, I understand the concept of heavenly rewards and those that will “suffer loss” (1 Corinthians 3:15). But what about the fact that Bid Laden could even be in heaven (the real one, not the Muslim one with all the virgins)… while many of the people he killed – good, honest, hard-working mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters – are not? Where’s the justice in that?

We think it’s wonderful that we’re washed in the blood of Jesus, that our past is completely forgiven, that our sins are atoned for. But in the back of our minds, we harbor this thought: that our sins are not so bad compared to the next guy’s. Even the worst alcoholic, drug addicted sinner who abused and abandoned his family, robbed convenience stores to support his habit, did hard jail time, then repented and turned to the Lord can look at Osama bin Laden and say, “My sin wasn’t as bad as his.”

But here’s the fly in the ointment:

All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. (Ephesians 2:3, Italics Mine)

You see, it’s our nature, not our behavior, which condemns us. But so often we haul out the scales of justice, heap our sins on one side and the sins of another person on the opposite side … and feel quite justified when it tips to our favor. But on God’s scale, our sin weighs in the same as Bin Laden’s. If you think that’s harsh, consider the words of Jesus:

You’re familiar with the command to the ancients, “Do not murder.” I’m telling you that anyone who is so much as angry with a brother or sister is guilty of murder. Carelessly call a brother “idiot!” and you just might find yourself hauled into court. Thoughtlessly yell “stupid!” at a sister and you are on the brink of hellfire. (Matthew 5:21-22, The Message)

Or Romans 3:9-19:

There is no one righteous, not even one;
there is no one who understands,
no one who seeks God.
All have turned away,
they have together become worthless;
there is no one who does good,
not even one.
Their throats are open graves;
their tongues practice deceit.
The poison of vipers is on their lips.
Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.
Their feet are swift to shed blood;
ruin and misery mark their ways,
and the way of peace they do not know.
There is no fear of God before their eyes.

Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.

Isn’t that the whole point of the Gospel?

“What about the people bin Laden killed? Doesn’t he have to answer to them?”

King David wrote Psalm 51 after his adultery with Bathsheba. You may recall how he’d gotten her pregnant while her husband was off fighting in David’s army. Then David conspired to cover it up by bringing her husband back for a conjugal visit. When Uriah refused, David arranged for him to be placed on the front lines of battle where he would be killed.

Inarguably, David sinned against many people, not the least being Uriah. Yet in Psalm 51:4 he tells the Lord, “Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight…” In our self-conscious, self-centeredness, we often overlook the fact that the person who has sinned against us has really sinned against God – and we ought to let him deal with it.

Earlier I asked where’s the justice if Bid Laden could be in heaven while many of the people he killed are not? Here’s where the justice is… at the cross, where Jesus Christ was crucified and died, taking on the sins of the world – including Osama bin Laden’s. I’ll leave you with Psalm 130:3-4 to consider:

If you, O LORD, kept a record of sins,
O Lord, who could stand?
But with you there is forgiveness;
therefore you are feared.

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