Yes, you read the title correctly. This is about a violent man who was violently killed but who was also loved by God. Read on.
There is a great story told about a rabbi who was asked if God enjoyed all that God had done in history. The Rabbi said, “No” and then told a story of how the angels in Heaven where rejoicing and singing and dancing the day the Red Sea drowned the Egyptians who pursued the fleeing Hebrew slaves. When the Almighty came along and found them, they were dismissed from God’s service. “Why?” they asked the Lord, who replied, “How can you sing and dance when some of my children are drowning?” – from Mike Piazza, “Osama bin Laden is Dead” at http://www.h4pj.org/activist/050211.php.
Exodus 20:13 – “You shall not kill (some English version have “murder”).”
Proverbs 24:17-18 – “Do not rejoice when your enemies fall, and do not let your heart be glad when they stumble, or else the Lord will see it and be displeased, and turn his anger from them.”
Matthew 5:43-45a, 48 – “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven . . . . Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
How should we react to the news on Sunday night that Navy Seals stormed the compound of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan and killed him and 3 others? For many Americans the reaction was celebration. For many the reaction was a sense of relief and release. For some, it was a time of sadness, disquiet, and unease. I have found myself in this last category. I believe that God loves every human being, including Osama bin Laden, is saddened by all deaths by violence, and calls all people to give up violent ways. It is the violence that saddens me.
I deplore the violence this world resorts to time after time. I deplored the violence on 9/11/2001. I deplore the violence of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. I deplore all the IED’s, suicide bombers, drone missile attacks. I truly believe that the use of violence only fuels more violence. As someone said in reaction to the news of bin Laden’s death, “Kill bin Laden on May 1 and face 10 bin Laden’s on May 2.” The use of violence to control violence only continues the deathly spiral that will end in the apocalyptic death of humanity. We must find a new way of stopping our violence. That new way is Jesus, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
Jesus died on Good Friday to set us free from our slavery to sin and death. Jesus was raised on Easter Sunday as a sign of God’s forgiveness of our violence and to call us to live a new, peaceful lives by believing in, following, and imitating Jesus Christ. It is this Jesus who taught us to love God and love our neighbors including our enemies. Jesus’ life, teaching, death, and resurrection reveals to us that God is a God of love who abhors violence. God is even willing to suffer our violence by dying on the cross to show us that all violence is our violence.
Proverbs tells us to not rejoice at the failings of our enemies and Jesus tells us to pray for them. So, let us pray:
Dear God, we confess our violent tendencies and actions and we ask for your forgiveness. May your Holy Spirit lead us into lives of righteousness and peace. May your Holy Spirit guide the leaders of all nations and militant groups to the knowledge and realization that violence in never the answer so that the world’s stores of weapons may be turned into plowshares. We also lift up to your care all the families who have lost someone to violence and ask that your Holy Spirit comfort them in their loss. Give us the strength and will to follow Jesus in loving our neighbors and enemies wherever they may be. We ask this in the name of your son, Jesus the Christ, our crucified and risen Savior. Amen.