These are my immediate thoughts on hearing the news of the death of Osama Bin Laden. Maybe with some more processing time and your comments I will come to different conclusions:
Memories of the horrors of 9/11 are resurrected with the news that the man that masterminded the atrocity has been killed. The destruction of the twin towers is the image that seem to summarize the beginning of the 21st century and give us a snapshot of a changing world order where a small band of extremists strike a blow that not only kills thousands but ignites fear and hatred in millions. Many of us can sympathise with the words of one 9/11 survivor who said:
“I just can’t find it in me to be glad one more person is dead, even if it is Osama bin Laden.” http://j.mp/jRsbkv
The memories of the romantic fairytale of a royal wedding seem very distant now that bin Laden has been killed. The realities of a divided and broken world seem to have woken us up from a dream.
Bin Laden was of course someone’s son, brother, father and husband. I heard recently of how David Works, the father who lost two daughters Stephanie and Rachel Works (18 and 16 years old) in the shootings in a Colorado church was asked if he would be willing to meet with the parents of Matthew Murray the 24 year old gunman who had destroyed his family and who had been shot at the scene. The father agreed and the parents met together and fell into each others arms as grieving human beings whose lives had been torn apart by a tragedy. There will be grieving families in America and in Afghanistan this day and so celebration seems somehow out of place. The Bible is clear that we are to grieve with those who grieve so today we grieve with those who have lost loved ones in both sides of these terrible events.
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.[c] Do not be conceited. Romans 12:14-16
Jesus is very clear that we should love our enemies: he offered forgiveness to those who had beaten and abused him, to those who had nailed him to a cross and to those who eventually killed him. But does that apply to someone like Osama Bin Laden? Some would argue that it was wrong for the US to spend ten years pursuing a vendetta against one man, using military might that meant so many casualties to both combatants and civilians. But loving your enemies does not necessarily exclude the need to pursue justice. Jesus also told us to love our neighbors and this can mean protecting them from danger and a man who was willing to indiscriminately kill men, women and children is a threat to all. He was trying to ignite a clash of civilizations all at war between the Islamic world and the rest of the world and so for him to no longer be operative is a victory for peace. So maybe there can be a sense of relief that a step towards peace has been made. But celebration may ignite greater feelings of animosity and turn an iconic figure to some into a martyr with even greater power to inspire.
These are difficult days and so we must of course pray for our leaders, our Muslim neighbors , the families of those who grieve that all would know the peace and grace and compassion of our God.
In Jesus’ most famous speech; the sermon on the mount, Jesus described the kind of people that know the blessing of God in their lives. Jesus said:
“Blessed are the peacemakers for they will called the children of God” TNIV
God is a peacemaker, he sent Jesus into the world on a peace mission. When Jesus voluntarily offered himself as a sacrifice for the sins of the world, he was bringing the possibility of peace between humans and God. Jesus took the punishment for the sins of the world, so that God could pursue justice and punish sin, but also so that God could demonstrate love by dying in our place and offering us forgiveness we don’t deserve. Those that seek to follow Jesus will be peace makers. If we are those that actively work for peace the family likeness of God will be seen in us. In these difficult days its time for Christians to get busy doing the family business – seeking peace.