Sunday, May 1, 2011

Dead Man

As I write this, I am listening to the President speak about the U.S. militaries' successful attempt to finally kill Osama bin Laden. It was amazing to see how quickly Facebook filled up with the news of his death. It would be fair to quote Monty Python on this phenomenon when they said "And there was much rejoicing."

I'm NOT happy. But it's not because a guilty, murderous bastard is dead. No. I'm not happy precisely because so many people ARE happy...even though most of the people rejoicing made no sacrifice what so ever in this so-called "War on Terror." I'm not happy, because another person is dead and will not get another chance to repent. (Despite what Rob Bell hopes for.) I'm not happy, because no matter how happy people are at the moment, they will forget about it in a few weeks...or less. No, I'm not happy, because there will be many others who will rise up to take bin Laden's place. NO, I'm NOT happy, because as human history has shown, we really won't learn much at all from any of this.

For some reason, the book of Ecclesiastes popped into my head as I was watching the scroll on Facebook.

"Meaningless! Meaningless!" says the Teacher.
"Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless...

What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun...

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven:
a time for love and a time for hate,
a time for war and a time for peace...
Whatever IS has ALREADY been,
and what will be HAS BEEN before;
and God will call the past to account...

Guard your steps when you go to the house of God.
Go near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools,
who do not know that they do wrong.

Now all has been heard;
here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep his commandments,
for this is the whole duty of man.
For God will bring every deed into judgment,
including every hidden thing,
wether it is good or evil."

If it's true that Solomon wrote this book, then, since he is considered the wisest man who ever lived, that's quite a statement.

Just some thoughts on this breaking news:
* It's estimated that over 300,000 vets from the wars in Afghanistan & Iraq now suffer from P.T.S.D.

* These two wars, one a war of necessity which we seem to be losing, the other, a war of choice that we almost lost due to a complete lack of preparation for occupation, have already cost over a trillion dollars. (But let's not worry about the national debt.) Say what you will about our two wars, at least during WW1 & WW2...and EVEN Vietnam, we imposed a tax to pay for them. This one we put on a credit card who's bill has come due.

I'm not a pacifist. I'd like to be, but I'm not. However, the older I get, the more skeptical I become of "war being diplomacy by other means." I'm tired of politicians spending the lives & bodies of young men and women. It rarely accomplishes a settled goal for peace.

A few years back, I saw an interview with a missionary in South America who's plane was shot out of the sky by a CIA enhanced air force. (They mistook his plane for a drug runners.) He said into the camera that until people repent and turn to God, this type of thing would continue forever. "Nothing new under the sun," I suppose.

An acquaintance on Facebook posted a question wondering what a Christian's response should be to something like the death of bin Laden. It made me recall something Dietrich Bonhoeffer said about his joining the plot to kill Hitler. He said something to the effect that he felt it was necessary, but that it was still a sin. That pretty much sums up my thoughts on ALL war...including the "Good" ones.

"Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when he stumbles, do not let your heart rejoice, or the Lord will see and disapprove and turn his wrath away from him."
Proverbs 24:17

I don't think that God delights in the death of anyone, even incredibly horrible people. Even the worst person is made in God's image, and God loves them as much as he does a Billy Graham or Mother Theresa.

Osama bin Laden was a stone cold killer. He murdered in the name of God. I think that God is saddened by his death, because now Osama will stand in judgment before this God and answer for his sins. Osama never repented. I haven't killed anyone, but when I look in my heart I understand rather quickly that I am a guilty man who deserves judgment as equally as does bin Laden.

I made the decision many years ago to place my trust in Jesus and his kingdom. Now, in his eyes, I am made righteous...despite my incredibly sinful tendencies. Osama never placed his faith in Jesus. He rejected him. I think that God mourns the death of this evil man.

Jesus taught his followers to love their enemies. He asked his father to forgive his executioners. The bible teaches us to pray for those who persecute us. Maybe the proper response to something like this situation is something along the lines of this:
I saw that right before I went to bed, so I haven't had too much time to check it out. However, it does strike me that this is exactly what Christ called us to do. Think what an amazing testimony it would be to see a terrorist come to faith in Jesus.

In NO WAY does that mean that we should not seek justice for people who commit crimes. The bible is clear that law & justice must be upheld. However, shouldn't everyone have the chance to receive the Gospel?

In all seriousness, how often do we actually pray for our enemies? I know that I rarely do.

American's get all giggly over war. Young men think it is a video game.

Violence and blood are real...and very ugly. My friend John was blown up twice by IEDs in Iraq. (I've seen his leg.) Now, along with over 300,000 other vets from our newest wars, he suffers from PTSD. It's heart breaking and very, very ugly indeed...and it doesn't look like a heroic video game.

I think that the Kingdom of Heaven looks very upside down when compared to this world and what it has to offer. Every day I pray to God that he would return immediately and make all things new. I really don't like seeing the things I have to see everyday.

Someday, things will be very different.

"Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and first earth had passed away...And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.""
Rev. 21:3 & 4

Eden restored? Someday, things will be very different indeed, and THAT will be a day on which to rejoice.

The death of Osama bin Laden was necessary. But I won't rejoice. I'll save that for the day when I am back where I belong.

It's just a thought.



P.S. There IS a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.


  1. Joe, while there are points (of course) where we disagree (I am a Universalist who believes in the ultimate reconciliation of all people .. because of Ghrist), however your excellent blog post was so very well written, and meaningful that I wish all those on Facebook who are dancing in the aisles could see it and consider ...
    Peace and God's grace to you, Will

  2. I wish that I could be a Universalist, but I just think that that is too much of a stretch for the scriptures. (Hebrews 9:23-28, specifically vs. 27) Which is why this type of rejoicing is particularly inappropriate.

    But at the same time, I understand why people are so happy. That man did cause a massive amount of pain and destruction. And he did it for God, which s particularly disgusting.

    But for me, I simply can't get past the truth that no matter how evil he chose to be, he still bore God's image. If more people, especially Believers, kept the idea that ALL people carry that image in the front of their minds, this world would look very different in no short order.

    Thanks so much for your comment. Peace to you too.