When justice is done, it is a joy to the righteous but terror to evildoers. -Proverbs 21:15

I like the headline on the Omaha World-Herald this morning. Justice. That’s what it’s all about for me.

I was on the computer, talking to some people on Twitter, when @NortonBrian* first alerted me to a sudden announcement from the President coming in thirty minutes. Sunday night? You knew it was something big if it was happening late in the evening on a Sunday. I started scouring news sites, and nobody had anything yet about an announcement.

*@NortonBrian works at the Omaha World-Herald. So I had confidence in his tweets.

Then, @NortonBrian retweeted the infamous tweet that had the news about Osama Bin Laden’s death. My thoughts and feelings? Excitement. Hopeful. Justice served.

A number of us started talking on Twitter. We were retweeting pertinent information, and then the tweets started coming in from national news sources about Bin Laden’s death.

I went downstairs and turned on the tv. One of the few times I wish I still had cable, but the digital tuner worked well. Nobody had broken in on the major networks yet. I had my laptop and kept monitoring Twitter, and the tweets were coming fast. I cracked a joke about President Obama needing to have the death certificate that I’m sure a thousand other people were thinking at the same time.

Finally, ABC cut into its programming and started reporting about the news. I told Jana to come downstairs to the basement to watch. She was wondering what was going on, if I was okay, and then I told her the news. She sat down to watch with me.

President Obama’s announcement was delayed, so they had time to fill. I was fascinated by every tidbit. I  couldn’t believe it had been almost ten years since he became the most wanted man in America. I thought about 9/11. I thought about the horror, and how the man behind those murderous and terrorist acts had finally faced justice. I thought about the changes in life since 9/11. I thought about how I looked into joining the Military reserve during the fall of 2001. I thought about my first flight after 9/11. I thought about the threats made against me, and my team, when I was in a Muslim area of Nigeria. I thought about President Obama’s inauguration day and how one of my thoughts then was I couldn’t believe Bin Laden was still free. I thought about how the past week’s news had been dominated by the issue of President Obama’s birth certificate. I had a lot of thoughts, but I was overjoyed.

It seemed weird to feel that, but I was overjoyed. I was grateful for justice. I was grateful this bully would not be terrorizing anymore. He would not be threatening the lives of anyone. I always took it personal. This was a man that wanted me dead. He wanted my family dead. He wanted my friends dead. He wanted my home burned. He wanted my way of life to be no more. He wanted people around the world, that did not align themselves with him, to be dead or subjugated to his way of life.

When President Obama spoke to the nation (to the world), I was transfixed. It was late into the night by now, almost 11 PM. This summed it up, “Justice has be done.”

Some tweets were coming in from people knocking the joy people had over his death. Some Christians were bringing up the fact that we are celebrating someone who (in all likelihood) is in Hell. In one sense, I understand why they are saying that. Still, I look at it as justice served. I wondered about the Christians, especially the ones almost rebuking people for their joy over Bin Laden’s death, had ever prayed for Osama Bin Laden. I wondered if they pray for others. I wondered if they do anything about their comments or just sit on the sidelines and criticize.

And then I had to be careful not to be cynical and proud. There are 6.7 billion of us on Earth, and 2 billion Christians. There will be varied responses to Bin Laden’s death. It shouldn’t be an issue of divisiveness within the church. I may not agree with different opinions, but it doesn’t make me any better or worse. There are more important things to unify around in Christianity.

During former President George W. Bush’s first term, he made a comment to the effect that Osama Bin Laden would never be able to be a Christian. I found this incredibly foolish and unbiblical. Yes, Bin Laden’s acts, crimes and sins were deplorable and numerous, but none of us is beyond reach while alive. I was so upset by Bush’s thinking that I started praying for Bin Laden. I thought if he did start following Jesus it would be the most amazing conversion since the Apostle Paul. So, I did pray for Bin Laden throughout the past decade.

However, I also prayed for justice. I wanted him to face the consequences for 9/11 and the other terrorist acts he committed. Justice is something God desires, and I thought celebrating the justice of Bin Laden’s death was appropriate. As Pastor Steven Furtick noted, Bin Laden sent thousands of people into a Christless eternity when he killed them.

Is Bin Laden’s death more symbolic now? Maybe, but then I think about how Americans spontaneously celebrated after the news became official. It was a much needed catharsis for Americans that maybe we didn’t realize we needed. I was surprised what it did to me.

As far as what this will do to the terrorists, who cares. It doesn’t matter what Americans (or anyone else) do, some terrorist will take offense at it and released a tape about how they are going to blow up something. People can live within reason, and still some terrorist will be offended and threaten. Justice is served, and I think it should be celebrated.

I can’t wait to read the book about the operation that killed Bin Laden. I can’t wait to see the movie.

I decided to wear red, white and blue today. Red Huskers shirt with white lettering, blue jeans and blue hoodie. Symbolic, but makes me happy.

What lays ahead with the war on terror is still unknown. America is fighting three wars right now that are the source of much consternation to people around the world. There is unrest around the world. We see governments being toppled. We see people being terrorized still. People are looking for hope. We need to continue to pray for people around the world and here in America.

We need to continue to pray for our enemies. We need to continue to hope and pray for an end to these wars. We need to continue to pray for an end to terrorism of all kinds, such as domestic terrorism.

We need to continue to pray for our leaders. We need to continue to pray for our military and their families.

As a follower of Jesus, I pray that Christ’s impact can continue through the world. I pray that people come to know the truth and experience hope and redemption through his life. I want to win the hearts and minds of people for Jesus more than win a war.

Update 5.02.2011 I really liked this post from Justin Holcomb that captures the tension most Christians are experiencing to varying degrees.

2 thoughts on “Thoughts on Osama Bin Laden’s Death

  1. Robb, As a follower of Christ, I question how I should respond to the death of a despot. I should rejoice at justice being done (God is Just), God has used nations to extract His justice through out history (both godless and godly). I should be humbled to be used in such a manner. Ex 33:11 says God does not delight in the death of those who are far from Him. He would prefer repentance. So at one point I delight, at the other I am humbled and the third I mourn.


  2. Thanks for the comments. Good stuff as always. Forgive me if I ramble a bit.

    It's been interesting to be a part of conversations about this topic, and observe various online discussions about it. It's good to wrestle with the tension. As many have pointed out, and as we both know, we can find verses to support both sides of the “argument”.

    It was a strange feeling reading the tweets and watching the news on Sunday night. Even days later it seems surreal. I was surprised by the catharsis I experienced. I was surprised by the spontaneity of people's responses to it, especially late on a Sunday night. I'm sure for some it was gladness that Bin Laden was dead. I think for most, though, it was a one of or a mix of relief, “closure”, joy for justice, and nationalism. (I think for me it was relief and justice.)

    In 2000, I was leading a missionary team in Nigeria. We were staying in an area where there was a push for Sharia Law being the law. Obviously, it was a Muslim dominated area. Most of the people were friendly, but we were threatened as well by local imams. At the time, I didn't heed it too much. Our contacts didn't seem to take it too serious either. I think about it a lot, though, since 9/11. I think about how I would've responded to that situation in a post 9/11 world.

    Part of writing the post was trying to sort through everything I was thinking and feeling that night and the next morning. I was getting asked about it instantaneously by others. And even after attempting to write a post about Bin Laden's death, twelve hours after the news broke, I was realizing it's still all about Jesus. What good is it to win a war if we lose the hearts and minds of people to receive the love and truth of Jesus?

    Perhaps I didn't stress that well enough at the end of the post. My bad.

    It is sad to think how someone can become so warped and perverted with their thinking. Regardless of the cultural and religious influences he grew up in, how does one get to such a point in their thinking? It is also sad to think that in all likelihood Bin Laden will not be in Heaven.

    It wasn't said this way, but I read a tweet this past Sunday that brought up David and Goliath. Has anyone ever mourned for Goliath, like we are asked to do for Bin Laden? The comparison being that Goliath was real. He taunted God and a nation. He was killed by David and in all likelihood will not be in Heaven.

    I don't rejoice in violence, and as I get older I find myself with more pacifist thinking. I don't rejoice in the fact that Bin Laden was killed, with some of his family nearby and perhaps watching. There's been a high cost of lives and money to bring about this justice. It is sad that he did not know Jesus, and that many who died to bring him to justice probably didn't follow Jesus either.

    Yet, there is relief for many, even though wars are still going on. There is a sense of justice for his worldwide terrorism, that Bin Laden reaped what he sowed. Rightly or wrongly, there is a sense that his death is significant in the broader war on terror. And as the Bible talks about, he is without excuse. (Romans 1:20)

    Of course, without Jesus I am no better or worse than Bin Laden. I'm guilty of murder as Jesus spelled out in Matthew 5:22. I'm guilty of idolatry, pride and many of the same sins that Bin Laden committed. I am no better than him. It's only by God's grace that I'm where I'm at with God and have the understanding I do.

    Even as I prayed for Bin Laden over the years, I saw him as a threat as well. I'm relieved he is not a threat anymore.

    I'm sure I'll continue refine how I articulate all this, especially as I wrestle with the tension of the perspectives.

    If you've made it this far, thanks for reading. I'm sure we'll talk more next time we see each other!


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