Even more, it is a sad day because the response of Christians to the death of Osama Bin Laden is again sadly mischaracterising God and thus repelling people from Christ and Christianity.
Here is a sample of statements from Christian leaders and other vocal Christians that I found in just 2 minutes of looking:
- “We are praising Jesus that he guided the men and women who took out this horrible man.”
- “Celebrate Justice.”
- “The cheering crowds remind us that justice is glorious & comes ultimately through Jesus cross or hell. Justice wins.”
- “The Government’s Sword as an Instrument of God’s Wrath.”
- “America wins! FATALITY!”
- “He gets exactly what he deserves, i.e. eternal death in hell forever. That is the truth taught in the Bible.
- “How is the heat, Osama!?”
Contrast those statements with Jesus. Jesus was confronted by a man whom Satan had entered (Luke 22:3). A man more wicked than Bin Laden. A man who was plotting against the Son of God, himself, to hand him over to his murderers.
How did Jesus act toward this man?
Did he “guide men and women to ‘take him out’?” Did he torture him in fire and then cheer and call it justice? Did Jesus turn to the secular, worldly, human governments to do his killing for him and then emit a patriotic outburst of how his tribe had beaten down his tribe’s opponents? Did he say that this man would be tortured in hell for eternity and call it “justice”?
No. Those attitudes represent the character of Satan, not that of Jesus. Jesus, when he was given all power (John 13:3), did nothing of the sort. How does Jesus exercise power, according to John 13? Jesus demonstrated an attitude of perfect love and servitude by washing the feet of the man into whom Satan had entered and who was arguably the greatest sinner in human history.
This is how Jesus uses power. Washing the feet of his enemies. This is how he executes justice. This is his method for making things right.
Jesus makes things right (biblical “justice” = to make things right) by inaugurating a kingdom on different principles than the kingdoms of this world. Jesus’ kingdom is founded on the principle of others-centered love. And it’s our privilege to take part in this kingdom and extend its influence.
But we have to first ask what kinds of principles govern our minds. Do we really wish good upon our enemies? Do we violate the biblical principle articulated in Proverbs 24:17, which says, “Do not rejoice when your enemy falls”?
A friend shared the following insight on his Facebook page: “I am troubled by the euphoria and wild jubilation over this announcement. God is not fist-pumping or chanting “USA! USA!” tonight. Rather, something like this: “I do not enjoy seeing sinners die. I would rather see them stop sinning and live.” (Ezekiel 33:11)
Are we portraying for the world a picture of God that really is love? One could forgive outside observers for concluding something different today. Until we’re most prominently known for loving our enemies like Jesus does, we’ve got some work to do as a church.