As a human being and an American Citizen, I can understand the sense of justice and relief that people across the nation have experienced in hearing the news of Osama Bin Laden’s death. In addition to the thousands of lives lost, what happened on September 11, 2011 has changed the landscape of the entire world for the worse. However, as a follower of Christ, I cannot condone rejoicing in the death of another human being no matter how “evil” they may be perceived. Am I mistaken or did Jesus tell his followers that they were to love their enemies? There is no reason at all for someone who claims to follow Jesus to celebrate with the rest of the world that America’s perceived enemy is now deceased.
How can anyone tell the difference between a Christian and non-Christian if we hate our enemies just as the world does? Consider Jesus’ stern words in exposing the condition of men’s hearts in dealing with those who might do us harm,
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so?
Although Jesus often spoke in parables and veiled speech, here he was speaking plainly and directly. He meant exactly what he said! We are supposed to love our enemies. This is simply impossible to do without God’s love reigning within us. Our character is truly revealed when we are forced to deal with those who would hate and persecute us. What will we find underneath the surface? When we exhibit hatred, seek our own vengeance or applaud those that do, we are telling the world we are in darkness just like they are. Where is the light the world can run to if Christians are also walking in darkness?
He who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness until now. He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him. But he who hates his brother is in darkness and walks in darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.
I John 2:9-11
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Romans 12:14
Repay no one evil for evil. Romans 12:17
Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. Therefore
“ If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
If he is thirsty, give him a drink;
For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.”
Instead of hoping for Bin Laden’s capture and demise, we as the people of God should have been praying that God would save Bin Laden and have mercy on his soul. If the preceding sentence sounds absurd to you, then there is a good chance you might be walking in darkness.
Paul the Apostle instructs us to pray for all men because God wills to save all. However, this is not the American way. The American way is to take swift vengeance upon our “enemies” (whether real or manufactured), launch preemptive war strikes, and kill, maim and injure thousands upon thousands of innocent civilians. Just think of how many innocent people have died in the pursuit of one man over the past 9 years. As Christians we are to remain loyal to God and his word, not the word of the American President or any other dissident voice. While the rest of the country can go out and celebrate in front of the White House and chant USA in the stands at the ballpark, we are to have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. (Ephesians 5:11)
Justice and vengeance are areas that we as Christians must leave up to God. While we should love truth and justice, we should not revel in the death of another human being despite the evil they may have perpetrated. Wasn’t it Jesus who forgave his tormentors while hanging from the cross?
If you think that I’m way off base here then how about reading the view from the other side. Take a look at the following articles explaining the response of Bin Laden’s death from many Christian leaders. It’s also eye-opening to read the comments section to see what real people think.
Finally, I leave you with some scriptures to meditate upon and hope that those of you reading this will take up the mantle of loving your enemies as Christ has loved us.
Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
I Timothy 2:1-4
Do I have any pleasure at all that the wicked should die?” says the Lord GOD, “and not that he should turn from his ways and live?
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?’
We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death. Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.
I John 3:14-15
And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry, although I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man; but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant, with faith and love which are in Christ Jesus.
I Timothy 1:12-14
There will be no mercy for those who have not shown mercy to others. But if you have been merciful, God will be merciful when he judges you.
James 2:13 NLT