Last night’s announcement by President Obama that Osama Bin Laden is dead was historical and remarkable. Following the story online and through social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, one of the questions that is worth pondering is, as Christians, how should we feel about his death?
On the one hand, there is justice in his death.
But on the other, we are counseled in Proverbs 24:17, “Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth & let not thine heart be glad when he is overthrown.”
This wise counsel should cause us to be humble.
And of course, Jesus teaches us to LOVE OUR ENEMIES — and pray for them.
I — like virtually all Americans — remember exactly where I was on 9-11. And those memories are still painful. As Obama said last night, for all of us, the tragedy of that day is seared on our collective memories.
I am not really sure what the answer to the question of how we should feel is, but perhaps a hint is found in how Jews throughout the world celebrate the Passover. During the seder, when we come to the part about the Ten Plagues, we take some of our wine and drip it on the seder plate. The symbolism is that, even though we celebrate our own freedom, our joy (and therefor our wine) is diminished by the reality of the suffering that our enemies have undergone. The rabbis teach that we cannot experience full joy in the midst of any death and destruction.
So while it is certainly appropriate to celenbrate justice and freedom — and to give credit to our military and intelligence personel for a job well done — we must also temper our joy because we, as followers of the Way, never rejoice in death and destruction.
We should also pause and reflect upon the cost of this 10-year war in Afghanistan — in terms of American and NATO troop losses as well as the countless civilian deaths that have taken place. All in all, both a good day for the cause of justice, but also a sobering day that reminds us of the brokenness of our world and should lead all of us to pray: COME LORD JESUS! MARANATHA!