A Christian Response to the Death of Osama Bin Laden
I can’t help but see a divine appointment in the timing for today’s prayer. Our petition to God for wisdom for his Church was prepared in advance of the events of last night. The US military’s killing of Osama Bin Laden may come as some comfort to those who have cried out for justice since they lost loved ones on September 11, 2001, and in the wars that have followed. However, this sort of justice is not something that brings joy to the hearts of those who, with God, long for the restoration and reconciliation of humanity and all creation. Loved ones who were killed are not yet returned to us, but still await the resurrection and the final defeat of our true enemies, sin and death.
In the meantime, more death and violence may be inevitable, but violence will never bring peace, only more violence. Let us weep with and pray for the families and loved ones of all those who have died on both sides during the past decade of war; for all those everywhere who mourn the effects of war and brutality. In fact, let us pray for healing of the pain shared by all creation due to centuries upon centuries of violence.
For Bin Laden, and countless others who live by violence, this sort of end comes as a consequence of their choices and actions. It is not for me to say whether or not this was God’s vengeance being enacted; such things are too lofty for me. In either case, the proper response of the disciples of Jesus is not to rejoice in the suffering of our enemies. As I was going to bed at 7 this morning, I prayed that God’s wisdom would indeed be poured out on the Church today. May we truly be a people who display wisdom which leads to reconciliation.
I am reminded of the response of the Amish community in Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania after the horrific murder and wounding of several young girls in a small schoolhouse a few years ago. The people of that community, only hours after their children were murdered by a terribly troubled man, surrounded his wife expressing comfort for her loss and their forgiveness for her husband’s actions.
In his book, Unconditional, Brian Zhand states that the radical response of forgiveness in these cases steals the last word away from evil. Rather than death, violence, vengeance, retribution, the final word becomes healing, forgiveness, mercy, compassion, new life. Even the media, which loves scandal and initially reported on the “Nickel Mines Massacre,” began referring to the events surrounding that shooting as the “Nickel Mines Miracle.” In whatever way possible, let our response to the killing of this human being express our hope for a final word beyond retribution or even justice.
Grace and Peace,