May 1, 2011

May 1, 2011. It is a day that all Americans affected by the horrific tragedy of 9/11 will remember as the day their loss was avenged: Osama bin Laden was announced dead.

To say there was not a bit of patriotic pride that welled up in my soul would be a lie. I did feel proud to be an American. I felt that everyone should. One of the most heinous criminals of our generation is no longer able to hurt anyone. For me, that is a reason to celebrate.

Osama bin Laden has been directly or indirectly responsible for the deaths of thousands of people over the past decade–has it really been that long since 9/11? My question I pose to anyone who is perturbed by the celebrations taking place–stripping faith out of the equation–is this: is the death of one man worth the life of a thousand?

Christians have now entered the conversation. Sparked by tweets, Facebook posts, and texts, they have decided it is time to take sides, once again, and fight to the death on whether or not we should be rejoicing in the death of someone whose soul is damned to hell or waving the flag of justice since an evil has been eradicated.

Both sides use Scripture too, which makes things even more touchy when trying to navigate the situation. Facebook has become a minefield with statuses advocating one position or another. If you say one wrong word, BOOM. Your whole feed blows up with an assault on your position. Just look at Mark Driscoll’s fan page. Granted, he is known for taking a bold stance and not standing down, but he approaching 1,000 comments on his statuses about the bin Laden episode.

One side stands poised to say, “Love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! God does like it when we rejoice in our enemy’s fall!” (citing Proverbs 24:17-18;  Matthew 5:43-38). They point out, rightly so, that the heart of God is for no one to perish, but all to come to repentance (1 Timothy 2). Their question is, why should we be rejoicing that Osama bin Laden is now spending eternity in Hell, separated from God?

The other side stands of the rock of justice proclaiming, “God is just! God hates evil! Governments have been instituted by God to protect their people!” (citing Psalm 5:5; Romans 13; Proverbs 28:5). They point out, also rightly so, that God is sovereign over all of history and His justice wins out in the end through the cross of Jesus. Their question is, why should the justice of a good God not be celebrated?

Both sides kick and scream, pushing forth their theological agenda more and more with every post or tweet. Mudslinging, prooftexting, and name calling. All in the name of Jesus?

Of course the death of someone who will be eternally separated from God is a tragic, sad event, but Christians are notorious for turning the conversation away from what it should be about to what they want it to be about–love, justice, revenge, etc. They forget that there is a God who is bigger than all of us, more knowledgeable than all of us, and wiser than all of us. Yet, we still try to play God by saying that this or that should be true; when, in reality, we will never understand the ways of God.

So should we, as Christians, rejoice in the death of Osama bin Laden?

Yes… and no.

Yes, because we should celebrate the triumph of good over evil–even in this temporary moment in history. The world is a dark place. Any time we have a moment that reminds us that God is in sovereign control of this world, and in the end He will ultimately defeat evil, we should rejoice in that. We should rejoice that our God is good. We should rejoice that evil will be ultimately be defeated, and the current situation is only a foreshadow of the ultimate victory to come. Sin has been defeated already, but it will be destroyed one day for good. Satan has lost his grip, but one day, he will no longer roam the earth. We should not celebrate the death of a man, but the life that comes through the death of Jesus Christ.

No, because we should not celebrate the death of a soul that has been damned to hell for eternity. No one should wish that fate on their enemy. If you do, then you must reexamine your motives as a Christian. It is not our place to condemn the world but to display the hope, joy, and love the Jesus’s death has come to bring so that others might see the change that Jesus has brought in our lives and desire it for their own. Our emotions get the best of us sometimes. Although they are given to us by God, we sometimes have a hard time keeping them in check. We must keep everything in perspective when it comes to emotionally charged issues and events. Every human being is loved by God. God’s heart is to see everyone repent and believe in the power of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice; sadly, not everyone will do so. We should not rejoice in this fact, but it should spur us on to better share the Gospel and live the life Jesus modeled for us.

Should you rejoice? Yes, but in the right context. Not out of spite for a man who will suffer more pain and torment than he ever caused, but because our God is bigger than our understanding and just in all His ways. Our rejoicing should echo that of the angels who say that our God is Holy, Holy, Holy. His actions are set apart on another plane that we cannot begin to comprehend; for that, we should praise and worship Him.

In the end, it all comes back to what Jesus did on the cross. He died for your sin that condemns you to the same fate as anyone who has not believed in the saving power of Jesus. As long as that sobering perspective is kept in place, your response should be worthy of what God expects.

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