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 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.