On the one hand…on the other

02 May

Last night’s revelation of Osama bin Laden’s death at the hands of a US special forces team has left me wrestling with some tensions. I want to share these conflicting thoughts with you and give you space to interact with them.

On the one hand, I am happy that bin Laden has paid for the multiple attacks against America.
On the other hand, I find it difficult to rejoice that he is lost.

On the one hand, I am glad that bin Laden can no longer organize terror.
On the other hand, I realize that someone else will rise to power.

On the one hand, I rejoice with Americans that an enemy has been defeated.
On the other hand, I cannot envision Jesus of Nazareth taking pleasure in this death.

On the one hand, I am glad that justice has been done.
On the other hand, bin Laden’s death will not bring anyone back from the dead.

On the one hand, bin Laden was evil.
On the other hand, I am a sinner who has done evil.

On the one hand, bin Laden had it coming.
On the other hand, we all have it coming.

On one hand, Scripture describes rejoicing in the defeat of the wicked.
On the other hand, Scripture warns us to not take pleasure in the fall of wicked people.

On the one hand, I wanted justice for bin Laden.
On the other hand, I want mercy for myself.

One biblical narrative has come to my mind in all this. The 72 disciples return to Jesus after being sent to preach the Kingdom with the power to drive out demons. The 72 were excited and amazed at the power found in Jesus’ name exclaiming, “Even demons submit to us in your name.”

Jesus’ responded to them by saying that he saw Satan fall like lightning from Heaven. But Jesus taught them the real cause for celebration was not the power and authority over evil but the fact that their names are written in heaven. Our true Christ-like celebration does not come from our mastery over evil through power, but rather from our deliverance from evil through Christ’s power.

Bin Laden is dead. Justice has been served. I cannot take pleasure in his death. Because of my sin, I deserve death. I need grace. I celebrate freedom from sin and death through Christ.


Posted by on May 2, 2011 in Uncategorized


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11 responses to “On the one hand…on the other

  1. Chris

    May 3, 2011 at 3:39 am

    I really appreciate this. I find myself also struggling with disparate emotions on this one. The very recent death of a friend by overdose may have me sensitized. Or it may just be that I find it hard to hold my son and feel any celebratory notions surrounding the death of another human being. Certainly those who lost loved ones at the whim of Bin Laden may feel differently and I allow for that. There is no question that Justice was called for and I’m glad, at least, that he will not be able to plan any further atrocities. But this does not make us a better country, does not validate us in the eyes of God or man.
    There is no victory in this man’s death. Although I truly hope that those who have lost loved ones feel some sense of release now. And I hope even more that this type of justice won’t be necessary in the future.

    • jordanhubbard

      May 3, 2011 at 3:44 am

      Thanks Chris. Good thoughts. I like what said and I also hope that we won’t have to see this kind of justice again.

  2. Brandon

    May 3, 2011 at 4:23 am

    Love the tension you present. While the circumstances of his death was certainly a consequence of the life he lived, I can’t connect the fact that he died a little earlier than most people to any good definition of justice.

  3. jordanhubbard

    May 3, 2011 at 4:35 am

    a “good definition of justice” is very hard to come by isn’t it?

  4. Wes Whisenhunt

    May 3, 2011 at 6:20 am

    Three thoughts, not exactly random but I’ll let you connect the dots.
    1.)The rulers of the earth are like grasshoppers to God.
    2.)God brought a people against Americans who are farther from God than we are. Why?
    3.) David was a warrior, but was called a man after God’s own heart.

    • jordanhubbard

      September 7, 2011 at 8:54 pm

      I think it is important to remember that for the Christian, Christ becomes the lens for interpretation of the Scriptures. If we forget this, then we run the risk of believing that God’s Kingdom will come through the sword instead of through the Spirit. If we interpret Scripture through the lens of Christ, we can also see that Christians are the Israel of God (Romans 9:6; Galatians 6:16). I believe that America is a good nation and a blessed nation, but I don’t see America as God’s chosen people on the earth. God’s chosen people is the Church.

  5. patricia rushing

    May 3, 2011 at 9:14 am

    My stepson and I were discussing this tonight and we both were thinking the same thing. What the man did was wrong and justice was deserved for many who can now have closure. But the bottom line is where he is now and I cannot celebrate this justice fully when he or anyone else has everlasting torment. But by the grace of God, I could have lived my life in the middle east and this type of life would have been normal and never had known the truth.

  6. Jack Walker

    May 3, 2011 at 10:28 am

    Jordo, all of your wrestling is due to the Wallaces! If Paul’s great uncle Foy hadn’t changed us from the pacifist Stone-Lipscomb to the pro-war movement we are today, you would be at peace; of course you might be in jail but you’d be a peaceful inmate albeit with peace signs in psychodelic colors all over your cell….just a possibility…seriously, feel the same way you do-torn. It is always sad when violence is employed but nations are called to promote justice. More than wrestling with the US capping UBL, I have problems with Yahweh telling his leaders to kill everyone even the smallest babies. If you’ve got a good answer for that one, let me know…. Blessings, Jack

  7. Dan Hurley

    May 3, 2011 at 11:00 am

    I wonder if there is a difference, even in scripture between spiritual justice and earthly justice. Spiritually, we all deserve death. Bin Laden is no different than I am in that regard. And while death comes to us all because of sin, I wonder if there are Godly reasons why one’s life may be terminated sooner than others for the sake of justice.

    Habakkuk was quite concerned with justice towards the Assyrians and the immoral leaders of his time and God was quick to answer his call for justice….just not in the way he envisioned, through a power even more evil in the Babylonians.

    So while Bin Laden and I may begin from the same place spiritually (though I plead for Grace where he did not), in an earthly plain it is acceptable for me to ask God for and be grateful for earthly justice for Bin Laden that I do not equally deserve – provided I understand my role as “the righteous shall live by faith”.

    • Dan Hurley

      May 3, 2011 at 11:02 am

      that should read “in an earthly plane”. haha.


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