My immediate and unrehearsed response after hearing Osama bin Laden was killed last night was to proclaim, "We finally got him!" My next thought was to question my first. As America and the world celebrates the death of bin Laden, I am still stuck in limbo. I am thankful that he will never again be able to harm human life but I am still wondering how Jesus would respond to such a situation? Proverbs 21:15 says, "When justice is done, it brings joy to the righteous but terror to evil doers." For this reason I am led to celebrate and praise God that one who killed so many (many more than the 9/11 victims we think of) was himself killed. And I pray that it brings terror to the many influenced by him.
Proverbs 24:17,18 says, "Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when they stumble, do not let your heart rejoice, or the Lord will see and disapprove and turn his wrath away from them."
Jesus himself tells us in Matt 5:44 to "love [our] enemies and pray for those who persecute us."
While Paul says in Romans 12:17-19, "Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: 'It is mine to avenge; I will repay,' says the Lord."
The unfortunately reality of human wickedness is the continuous cycle of death and violence as a form of justice. A popular pastor tweeted in response to the news of bin Laden's death, "The cheering crowds remind us that justice is glorious & comes ultimately through Jesus cross or hell. Justice wins."
Interestingly when God was bringing justice to the world it came at his own expense rather than that of the guilty. The crowds who were cheering were the crowds receiving the righteousness that came from his death. And the response of Jesus in Luke 23:34 was, "Father forgive them for they know not what they are doing."
I must confess that I still find myself rejoicing in the death of Osama bin Laden, but I'm not sure I know what I'm doing yet. My prayer is that one day death and violence will no longer be the method of justice, but I realize this time will only come when heaven and earth meet.
How are you responding?