Reflecting on the Death of Osama Bin Laden – Part 2 – Seeking a Christian Response

What is a Christian response to the killing of Osama Bin Laden? I’ve been trying to process this myself and I know I am not alone. If you are like me, you have been all over Facebook (and Twitter) and have “Liked” certain updates and posts, rolled your eyes at some and maybe even thought, “Wow, this person is one of my friends? How do I “unfriend” someone here?” And it’s good if we realize that sometimes people are thinking that about you (and me).

Years ago as I was beginning my experience in social media, it was helpful to understand that not only should I expect great diversity among my Facebook friends, it was good. I’ll admit, having an appreciation for the concept of plurality made this easier for me than say, more “black/white” type of thinkers but I say this because I have heard a few people get really frustrated about the different reactions and I’d like to politely mention that simply, you shouldn’t. You cannot control other people’s thoughts and actions but you ought to express yourself, as politely as you can (maybe even start a blog) and contribute to the conversation.

Now, let me contradict myself. Though I didn’t mind the diversity of Facebook/Twitter statuses, I was thrown off by what I would describe – the jubilation of the killing of Osama. Now, can I also admit that I was also caught off-guard by the showings and demonstrations of mercy? I do not want to question anyone’s sincerity but only narrate my thoughts here. For some, I believed they were simply very godly and loving people and showing mercy was a reflection of their broken and generous hearts. For others (and not anyone specifically really, these are all broad strokes here), I wondered if it was easier to show mercy because perhaps they did not have as much invested in the killing of OBL.

I was moved by the scene of the NY Fire Fighters sitting outside their station Sunday night. I was appalled by the interview that I saw of college students from Pennsylvania who drove 2 hours, got drunk and partied like it was New Year’s. I understood the excitement shown by our troops (and their families) upon hearing the news but I am still slow to understand the partiers outside the White House or scenes like this one. And though I was initially caught off-guard upon hearing the chants of U-S-A at the Mets-Phillies game, what does a mass of 45000-50000 at a baseball game do upon hearing the news of the killing of the nation’s most wanted terrorist? Of course, in my pastor-fantasy world, I would have liked them to stop and pray and invite me to give a sermon from the pitcher’s mound, but even I will admit that what happened seemed like an honest, appropriate and natural response.  Now I’d like to say that regardless of what our initial response was, we are still responding in some way.  So, let us respond well and I am processing what does a Christian response look like?

Now I despise OBL’s actions and the darkness in his soul too (and he did have a very dark and evil soul) and I realize that some have reason to loathe him more than me (and my prayers are with you). I do not often mention it but as a family we had an aunt and a cousin in Tower 1 that September day and we thank the Lord over and over that they were able to get out safely and are with us today. And though we don’t often talk about it, I know I am not the only one who thinks in the worst-case scenarios. So when I think of that day, in addition to the countless other stories we are connected to, I still have strong feelings towards OBL and those that are similar to him. I would also add that I have a strong despisement towards people like Joseph Kony (Leader of the LRA), and in general, human traffickers, exploiters, and other murderers too.

I am reminded by what I heard in this last week’s sermon. Our pastor told a story of an editorial that appeared in a newspaper years ago. G.K. Chesterton wrote in, “In response to what is wrong with world today, sir, I have an answer: I am.”

Now I will not equate myself to OBL in the sense that anything I have done warrants the efforts of two highly trained SEAL teams to hunt me down in Pakistan but sadly, I can identify with what the Chesteron is saying. And so in this post, I think part of the Christian response of the killing of OBL is coming to the realization that we are all deeply flawed and have contributed to the pain of the world. It’s in acknowledging this that we can see the difference and the importance of a Christian response.

As always feel free to push back, comment, or passionately (but politely) express yourself.

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