Last night President Obama announced that the United States Military- specifically the U.S. Navy Seals team six raided the house of Osma Bin Laden and killed him. Before I get into my remarks on this issue, I want to preface them by giving you a brief history of my family history. My grandfather was a Staff Sargent who served in World War two on General Eisenhower’s staff. My father is a retired Lt. Colonel. My uncle was a Chief Petty officer who served in Vietnam and other parts of the world. I have had many friends who have served in the military. I say all of this because I deeply respect the military and the sacrifice their families make everyday.
Last night after listening to President Obama’s speech tears started streaming down my face and I could not stop crying for over an hour in my office. After stopping crying for a bit, I walked downstairs from my office to talk with my wife. I made it to the end of the stairs and then I started crying again. My wife turned off the television and ran to me to ask me what was wrong. I did not answer immediately and she came and gave me a hug. After I was done crying I told her why I was crying. I told her I was crying because of the destruction Osma Bin Laden’s life caused.
After having a talk and sharing my thoughts with my wife about Bin Laden, I walked back upstairs to my office and watched more of the news on the television. I sat and watched on television as people celebrated the death of Bin Laden. The more I watched the celebration the more it grieved me. The reason this grieved me is here are people celebrating the death of a man who caused massive devastation in the lives of so many people around the world, and yet these same people celebrating the death of this man are sinners.
Please do not get me wrong here. I am not saddened by the death of Osma Bin Laden, but I am not happy about it. Here is a man by all accounts who is unrepentant and who has hardened his heart against the Lord God. Here is a man whose death was carried out justly by the government of the United States. I am also not saying that I was not the least bit happy that Bin Laden is dead.
I am deeply grieved at the death of Bin Laden because of the destruction his life caused. As Christians we believe in a God of justice. At the Cross Jesus death dealt a death blow to the forces of Satan. Yet at the Cross not only the justice of God but the love of God meet. The holiness and wrath of God were satiated in the death of the Lamb of God. As I look to the Cross of Christ even in the wake of Osma Bin Laden, I become convinced afresh that inside every single one of us as human beings is the capacity to do the same things that Osma Bin Laden did.
You may think that the last sentence I just said is not fair. How could one possibly do the evil Bin Laden did in one’s life? Inside every human being is the capacity for murder, death and destruction. On twitter, I noted that many people some even Christians were happy that Bin Laden died. I am grieved that one man caused so much destruction in his lifetime. I am also reminded that my sin can cause just as much destruction as Bin Laden in the lives of those around me.
Are you truly convinced that your sin is repulsive in the sight of God? Does the death of Osma Bin Laden bring you happiness and relief? I must be honest that I have mixed feelings about the death of Bin Laden. I am at once relieved that this man is dead and saddened by the reaction of many people. I am relieved that he is dead but I am not convinced that his terror will end in his death. This man has sowed seeds of hate the world over and many have been persuaded by his thinking. While I am not persuaded that the terror of Al-Qaedia is over I do believe that his death marks a major victory in the fight against terrorism. At the same time, I am saddened that this man is now in hell suffering unending unrelenting conscious punishment for his sin.
Now you may be surprised that I am sad that this man is now suffering unrelenting unending conscious punishment. Any person who willfully rejects the Savior will experience unending unrelenting conscious punishment. I am not going to defend that statement because I have done so more thoroughly in other articles dedicated to that subject. Yet because I believe in the unending unrelenting conscious punishment of people in hell does not mean I am happy that people experience such punishment. If I were happy that Osma Bin Laden was suffering unrelenting, unending conscious punishment in hell, I would be no better than the murder on death row awaiting his death.
Now you may be really shocked that I said that last sentence about being no better than the murder on death row. I did not write that last sentence to shock you but to get you to help you understand my point. My point is that anyone who takes joy at the death of a person who isn’t saved is no better than a criminal on death row for murdering someone. Celebrating the death of Osma Bin Laden is morally wrong, because celebrating the death of a man who has murdered and injured so many ought to sober us to the reality of our own sin. Rather than celebrating the death of a man we ought to seriously examine ourselves in light of the Gospel and repent for the wickedness and sin that lurks in our own hearts.
Sin is an issue of the heart. It was to rescue man from sin that Jesus was born in a manager, lived a sinless life, died victoriously and triumphed over sin and death in the resurrection. While Jesus has triumphed over sin and death in His death and resurrection- the Bible also teaches that He will come back to deal a death blow to His enemies by merely speaking His Word which is a sword mowing down His enemies from Megiddo to Edom. In other words all of the enemies of God will be utterly and thoroughly destroyed at the 2nd Coming of Jesus Christ. In the meantime- Jesus told His disciples to pray for their enemies in Matthew 5:44-48.
The first thing Jesus does in Matthew 5:43-45 is correct people in verse 43. In verse 44 Jesus teaches that those who follow Him are to be defined by “loving our enemies and praying for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.” Those are strong but necessary words from Our Lord and Master who sees into our hearts and knows us from afar. Our Risen Lord Jesus because He knows us through and through knows what we will do if we do not obey His Word and follow in His footsteps.
Praying for our enemies is very important! It is important because the only thing separating us as Christians from being non-Christians is the work of Christ. Only Christ saves. Only Christ offers mercy. Only Christ through His shed blood, burial and resurrection offer life to those who come to Him. Only Christ can do this- no man can manipulate God into accepting them into heaven. Only Christ through His work in the Cross & resurrection intercedes for His own can mediate the covenant He died to establish. Only Christ can do His work of drawing, convicting and wooing people by His grace, for His glory.
As believers in Christ Scripture calls us to be His ambassadors- salt and light in the world empowered by His Holy Spirit to bring His message of reconciliation to the world. Christians ought not to rejoice at the death of Osma Bin Laden because we are just as bad as Bin Laden. We ought to know better than to rejoice over the death of this man, because we have been transferred from death to life in Christ. We ought to know that we do not deserve the grace of God. I say this because we often become apathetic as Christians to the fact that we are called to be agent of grace in the world. We forget that Christ expects us to represent Him. Christ expects us to represent Him in a way that brings glory to His name. Christ expects Christians to reflect His holiness to others as we grow in His grace and minister in His power.
My brothers and sisters in Christ- I implore you, no, I plead with you to please pray for the families of those affected by the destruction Bin Laden and his cohorts have caused. I urge you to pray because Christ has commanded you to love your enemies. This does not mean that I don’t expect you to be mad or even upset at the actions of Bin Laden’s followers’ cause around the world. If I expected such a thing, I would truly be a fool. We should pray for our enemies because we know that we were once the enemy of God. We were once the object of the wrath of God that now burns on Bin Laden and the enemies of God. Because we know this truth it ought to lead us to be sober and vigilant to the reality of indwelling sin in our own lives. This ought to cause us to fight against sin in our own lives and put sin to death in our lives.
My dear brothers and sisters as I conclude today, I want you to understand the following. The Gospel is either going to be displayed through the bride of Christ through this situation or it is going to be diminished. The world will watch us and how we handle this situation. Now is a great time to stand up and make a declaration to one another to pray for the salvation of those who are not saved. Now is a great time to repent of our own sins and reconcile broken relationships. Now is a great time to witness to our unsaved family members, friends and neighbors.
As I have reflected the past few hours on this issue in preparing to write this, I must be honest I am sobered and humbled. I am sobered by the offensiveness of my own sin and how it displeases my Father in heaven. I am humbled afresh by the grace of God in Jesus Christ. I am thankful that Jesus died in my place for my sins taking upon Himself my sin in His bloody death, and giving me new life through His resurrection.
Christians we are not any better than Osma Bin Laden and his followers. The only thing that separates us from Bin Laden is the work of Jesus Christ. Until we grapple with the Gospel- specifically the justice of God, the goodness, kindness, mercy and grace that God pours out through the Gospel we will not pray for our enemies.
Praying for your enemies is not an option- it is a command. At one time you were an enemy of God. You were estranged by God. Yet, God through the ministry of the Word and Spirit drew you to Christ. Even though you made a decision to accept Christ- it was Christ who brought you from death to life through His Work on the Cross. It was Christ through His resurrection who gives you new life. It is not about you- it is all about Jesus Christ. It is all about displaying His glory in the world through the message and means of the Gospel.
Finally, I pray that every single Christian would grab hold of the Gospel. I pray that we as God’s people would not just speak the Gospel but that we would be transformed by the Gospel. May the message of the Gospel seep into our bones, & out of our bones shine through all our words and into the lives of hurting and broken people.
Dave Jenkins is happily married to his wife, Sarah. He is a writer, editor, and speaker living in beautiful Southern Oregon. Dave is a lover of Christ, His people, the Church, and sound theology. He serves as the Executive Director of Servants of Grace Ministries, the Executive Editor of Theology for Life Magazine, the Host and Producer of Equipping You in Grace Podcast, and is a contributor to and producer of Contending for the Word. He is the author of The Word Explored: The Problem of Biblical Illiteracy and What To Do About It (House to House, 2021), The Word Matters: Defending Biblical Authority Against the Spirit of the Age (G3 Press, 2022), and Contentment: The Journey of a Lifetime (Theology for Life, 2024). You can find him on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, or read his newsletter. Dave loves to spend time with his wife, going to movies, eating at a nice restaurant, or going out for a round of golf with a good friend. He is also a voracious reader, in particular of Reformed theology, and the Puritans. You will often find him when he’s not busy with ministry reading a pile of the latest books from a wide variety of Christian publishers. Dave received his M.A.R. and M.Div through Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary.