Sunday night, with the rest of the nation, I watch President Barack Obama inform the world that the US Military had killed Osama bin Laden, the mastermind of the bombing of the USS Cole, and embassy bombing or two, and–most notoriously–the worst act of terrorism ever carried out on US soil since Pearl Harbor–9/11.
My first thought was relief that no Americans were killed, and that the quest for this notorious criminal is over. But then my thoughts turned toward his family. Grief for the children who lost a father and a wife who lost her husband. Grief for a life that would never know the peace that comes from knowledge that clearly never reached him in that compound in Pakistan.
The President’s speech ended, and the news channel switched to pictures from outside the White House, and in New York City streets, and some other shots of crowds gathering, waiving American flags, and shouting “USA” and celebrating Osama’s death.
“Wow”, I thought. “Do I have this wrong? Am I viewing this the wrong way?? Maybe my ‘celebrator’ is broken because of the tornados and the damage and suffering around me.”
It’s just that when the death of my countrymen and women was met with cheers in the Middle East of this “tremendous victory”, I could not believe it. I was incredulous that people could hate someone they had never met. People that had just gone to work that day. People who probably couldn’t name half of the countries in the Middle East anyway, and had no intention of doing them harm. But they knew who WE were, and they were celebrating the blood. Those mommies. Those daddies. Those precious children who would never grow up. Celebrating their deaths? Evil.
For the past ten years, this tall Arab in Afghanistan and Pakistan, trained with US weapons by the US military back in the Cold War days, has been hiding from us. Or, just living his life the way he wants with money and his family and the apparent protection of at least some of the Pakistani government. Ten years that those 9/11 victims didn’t have with their families, that he did. And those children that he had with his wife in the last few years, they were reportedly in the room with him when he was shot in the face in front of them. Now, say what you want about him as a person. What a horrible thing for those children to see. That’s what sticks out in my emotional being when I hear the story. The people who are left.
The US Military did a fantastic job on this mission, as they do on most, of minimizing the human cost. They did their jobs, followed their orders, and are to be commended. We celebrate their victory. But celebrating the death of a father/husband? No matter how horrible he was, I say “no”.
Reading comments/jokes/jeers on Facebook about bin Laden’s death, honestly makes me feel sick to my stomach. This MAN did horrible things. Horrible. However, my heavenly Daddy lost a kid today. The same love, the same compelling desire for wholeness and restoration that my heavenly Daddy has for ME, he also had for Osama bin Laden. I don’t think he celebrated. For years, I have prayed that the Truth would shine through to bin Laden. I have no indication that it happened. You know, I am heartbroken that another person died that didn’t know Jesus Christ. Heartbroken. Not celebrating.
What does it say to the Muslim world that we are celebrating death on TV? I had hoped we would send a different message when the time came. I loved that man. I loved him with a love that came from knowing the Father. I wanted Osama to experience God as a loving Father, not a merciless tyrant. I wanted Him to know him in relationship, not by rules. I wanted Him to replace Hate with Love, Anger with Joy and Death with Life. But that will never happen now. When I speak with Muslim friends about my Jesus, I want them to know that He teaches me to love my enemy. To bless those who curse me. To pray for those who seek to do me harm. I want them to know that nothing could be farther apart from what they have been taught than the Gospel. The Gospel is a message of hope and salvation. Being set free from the rules that are heaped on them by a religion of death and bondage. I want them to know that freedom.
Finally, I will end this LONG post with how I want to be more like bin Laden. I want his passion. I want to be willing to risk everything, to go to whatever lengths are necessary to share the HOPE with people that I have. He used planes, guns, bombs, hate. But the weapon I have is much more powerful. The weapon of the Word. The weapon of the Gospel. It can change a life in an instant for all eternity. Nothing he ever did could touch that. The “fear” he aimed to spread, NOTHING compared to the hope that Jesus spread. And when that passion really gets in me, maybe people will know my name, but I mostly hope they know the name of Jesus. That every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.
In case you made it through that long post, and you aren’t sure what I mean by “the Gospel”, let me tell you. Man broke a relationship with God through breaking his commands. We call it sin. It made a huge rift between us, one that can only be spanned by living a sinless, perfect life. The punishment for sin is death. Each and every one of us deserve that. Because of God’s incredible love for us, he came to Earth in the form of man. Vulnerable, giving up his divinity temporarily to live the life of a man. He lived a perfect life as a man named Jesus. At the end of his life, he died, voluntarily on the cross for you and me. He gave us this gift so that we could be restored/reunited in relationship with God. To live out the eternal life he planned for us. All you have to do be restored in relationship, according to the Bible is to believe in Jesus and what he did for you, ask for his forgiveness, and then “confess” or tell others through words and your actions that you have given your life to Jesus. Follow that with baptism which is a sign to the world that your old sin-self has “died” that that your new “free-self” has risen. It’s a new beginning.