This is the question John Blake on CNN’s Belief Blog asks in relation to how people should respond to bin Laden’s death.
To say that there will be mixed emotions about the death of Osama bin Laden is an understatement. Those who supported him and his family are weeping and morning over his death. On the other hand, much of the world, America especially, will be rejoicing that a bit of due justice has been served thanks to the American Navy Seals team.
As a Christian I have to ask myself how I should respond. You might wonder why I would even have to ask that question. After all, bin Laden was behind the 9/11 attacks on the Twin Towers in NY and has been the leader of one of histories most hardened terrorist groups.
I have to ask myself this question because I realize that if it were not for the grace of God seeking me out through His Spirit and applying the atoning shed blood of Christ on my heart I would suffer the same fate as bin Laden – spending eternity in hell separated from fellowship with God because of my sin. And yes we can know that he is there.
I will not go so far as to dance in the streets shouting “Ding dong bin Ladens dead, bin Ladens dead, bin Ladens dead, ding dong the wicked bin Laden is dead”, as I picture myself as one of the Munchkins from Munchkin Land in the Wizard of OZ. At the same time I cannot suppress the inner desire to rejoice in some way that justice has been served and God has brought it to be through the government He has put in place (Rom. 13).
While there are many Christians offering suggestions for how Christians should respond to bin Ladens death, I thought I would point you one from Christopher Morgan. I have just finished reading two books co-edited by Christopher Morgan on the Biblical doctrine of hell: What is Hell? and Hell Under Fire: Modern Scholarship Reinvents Eternal Punishment.
I think Morgan clearly and rightly communicates to Christians how we can faithfully and in a God glorify way respond to Bin Ladens death. He starts and ends with these words:
As I watched the news reports, various passages came to mind–everything from Jesus’ teaching on loving and praying for enemies, to James’ forceful picture of a future slaughterhouse coming upon oppressors of God’s people. The more I reflect on it, the more I realize that my internal tension is similar to another one I have felt many times before–a tension related to the biblical doctrine of hell……..
Though the comparison is by no means perfect, and though it is on a much smaller scale, I tend to think that we can rightly grieve that Osama bin Laden opposed the true and living God and will be punished accordingly. But we also can rightly rejoice in the defeat and judgment upon people who are evil–and he was clearly evil and deserving of every punishment earth can give. The dancing in the streets may not merely be American nationalism, but an appropriate response to the partial display of human justice as we await the final and perfect display of divine justice in the coming age.
In my own words I would summarize Morgan’s words as such: Let our rejoicing over bin Laden’s death be tempered by the sobering reminder that he will experience eternal separation from God in hell forever and so would I but not for the grace of God in Christ Jesus towards me. Let this be an opportunity to turn our hearts to praise for our salvation which we do not deserve, drive us to our knees in prayer for our neighbor and prod us to me more vigilant to share the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ – a friend of sinners and their only hope of salvation from the eternal consequences of their sins.
You can read the whole thing here.
You can also read some other reflections in a similar vein from the following: