I think in years to come you will remember where you were when you heard the news that Osama Bin Laden had been killed. Bin Laden was a man who had terrorized the world attacking anyone who was ideologically opposed to him.  For many of us there is welcome relief that justice has been done and we can breathe a collective sigh of relief now that he is dead.

But as I was watching the new reports and I was seeing the glee that many people had in response to the news I was thinking “what is the Christian response to this?” and “what would have Jesus done?”[1]

Three texts come to mind when I think about the recent events.

The first is Jesus’ command to love our enemies and pray for them (Matthew 5:43-44). I wonder if we were to ask the people who were out the front of the Whitehouse last night cheering for joy over the killing of Bin Laden “Do you love Bin Laden?” or “When was the last time you prayed for him?” what they would have said. As Christians we are called to love our enemies. This is a seemingly impossible command but one that should be the most prominent ways Christians are different from others.

The second text is where Jesus forgives his enemies on the cross (Luke 23:34). Jesus is hanging on a cross being punished unjustly and he is not spitting out words of hate or death against his enemies he is praying for them, he is forgiving them! Forgiveness when we are wronged is much harder than vengeance, it requires us to take the pain that we have felt when we are wronged and deal with it not by getting revenge but by some other way. Once again I wonder if you asked those people partying outside the Whitehouse if they had forgiven Osama what they would have said.

The third text that comes to mind is Revelation 19:11-22. In this text, John shares a vision he has of Jesus coming back in judgement. Jesus judges the rulers of this world that oppose him and destroys them. This is a graphic and frightening picture of that last day when Jesus returns in judgement. But it also reminds us of two things. Firstly, that God cannot let injustice and evil go unpunished. It is comforting to know that Jesus hated what happened on Sept. 11 more than anyone else. He hates evil no matter what form it comes in.  Secondly, it reminds us that vengeance and justice is ultimately God’s and it will be carried out by him one day. The reason we can forgive, love and pray for our enemies is the fact that God is in control and he will judge. He will not let evil go unpunished. So even if Osama was never caught or killed one day he would have to give an account to Jesus the judge of the whole world.

So, back to our first question. Would Jesus have killed Osama? I don’t think we can say either way. But I do know he would have loved, prayed for and forgiven him. I also know he would be resting in the fact that God will ultimately bring justice to this world and justice and love not evil and terror will have the final say.

[1] Before I start I want to be clear I am in no way saying the man who took the fatal shot was wrong. He was doing his job and I am thankful for men like him who puts their life on the line to fight in wars etc.


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