From a talk given Sunday Morning, May 8, 2011 at Church in the Boro.
This subject will arouse deep-seated emotions in all of us.
- Some will feel threatened by what they'll read, and they'll want to react in anger. The counsel from the Word is let every person be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Think about what I'm saying and consider everything Jesus says before you make a conclusion and lash out in anger.
- Your emotional reaction to what you'll read here is a good gauge of your security in Jesus. If you are secure in Jesus and His love for you, then your emotional reaction will be near zero. If you are insecure in your relationship with Jesus, then your emotional reaction will rise and may reach a ten!
- The reaction many of you will feel inside is connected to something real, and it's called sin. We are all fallen and broken and marred images of God in need of a Savior and in need of heaven to come and completely change us. But until then, there will be things deep inside of us that are broken and will shoot splinters out at others when that broken part is triggered. That is not a time to get made. It is a time rather to sit and ask, "why does this tick me off so much? what is it about what I believe that makes me so angry at this?" Chances are, the truth I'm sharing with you is poking and scraping at that belief that is broken.
- The goal here is to apply the gospel to how Christians feel about the death of Osama bin Laden...and to apply it to what we think. What we feel and what we think are probably broken. The gospel redeems and renews and transforms what we think and how we feel. And it'll be surprising to note that even today, with all the teaching we have from the Scriptures, there are still things Jesus says that upsets even some of the oldest and wisest and smartest followers of Jesus.
- I urge you to listen carefully, squelch your emotions, hear the voice of Jesus in His own words, and don't try to deal with all the "Yeah...Buts!" and "Well what about...!!!" responses. You don't have to have all those future or hypothetical issues (most of which aren't even real to you and I) dealt with and answered in order to simply accept what Jesus says. Too often we feel like we can't accept what Jesus says unless we've got all the particulars already worked out and nailed down. If that's how you think, then you need to rethink following Jesus...because He's the King and He demands our obedience...whether we "get it" or not.
- If you have the kind of personality which likes everything put in nice, neat, cubby-holed, categories then you will struggle with what you'll hear this morning. And in fact, you'll struggle with much of what you read in the Bible. That's because the Bible is not a book that addresses our personality issues. It is a book which tells the story of God's plan to redeem His creation which has been marred by sin. Therefore, you will come up against tensions, paradoxes, and struggles in the Bible where it says one thing very clearly, and then says something else that very clearly seems to say the opposite. If you are not okay with two things standing side by side with each other that seem to contradict each other, then the Bible is going to bug you to death. The counsel there would be to just let it say what it says, and not be tempted to twist and reinterpret various passages to make them say what you want them to say, so that they will fit together nicely with your system.
- Finally, regardless of what you know about the Old and New Testaments, let's make one thing especially clear: Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of every part of the Old Testament. He is the fulfillment of history. He is the Creator and King of the Universe, and whether now or later, every knee will bow to Him as Lord of all, and every tongue will confess that He IS Lord of all. Those who make that decision today will not struggle nearly as much as those who wait to do so after their death. It is better to hear Him, embrace Him, and obey Him today...rather than tomorrow or later.
1. OBL was made in the image of God…just like every one of us.
“I have read at least a couple of Christian pastors who are chiding fellow Christians for celebrating the death of a fellow human being. But was bin Laden really a ‘fellow human being’? I believe that his actions over the years which lead to the deaths of thousands may have put him in an entirely different category.”
(Dr. D, http://answersforthefaith.com/2011/05/02/christian-responses-to-osama-bin-ladens-death/)
- In the Garden of Eden, before the fall of mankind: Genesis 1:27 – “So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” OBL was made in the image of God.
- After expulsion from the Garden of Eden, after the fall of mankind…and the flood: Genesis 9:6 – “If anyone takes a human life, that person's life will also be taken by human hands. For God made human beings* in his own image.” The presence of sin merely marred the image of God in man, but it did not completely remove it. However, OBL did deserve to die for the murders he supposedly committed on 9/11 and everywhere else.
- Any words of hate to any human being is murdering in the image of God.
- James 3:7-10 – “People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison. Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right!”
- Matthew 5:21-22 – “"You have heard that our ancestors were told, 'You must not murder. If you commit murder, you are subject to judgment.' But I say, if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the court. And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell.”
- Slandering or hating Osama bin Laden is not the way of a Jesus-follower, because in so doing we are destroying the image of God in him, just as he has done to many others. In essence, we become like OBL when we do with our mouths and hearts what he did with his hands and feet.
2. OBL deserved God’s wrath and justice…just like every one of us.
- Romans 1 – “18 But God shows his anger from heaven against all sinful, wicked people who suppress the truth by their wickedness… Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn't worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused. 22 Claiming to be wise, they instead became utter fools. 23 And instead of worshiping the glorious, ever-living God, they worshiped idols made to look like mere people and birds and animals and reptiles. 24 So God abandoned them to do whatever shameful things their hearts desired… Since they thought it foolish to acknowledge God, he abandoned them to their foolish thinking and let them do things that should never be done. 29 Their lives became full of every kind of wickedness, sin, greed, hate, envy, murder, quarreling, deception, malicious behavior, and gossip. 30 They are backstabbers, haters of God, insolent, proud, and boastful. They invent new ways of sinning, and they disobey their parents. 31 They refuse to understand, break their promises, are heartless, and have no mercy. 32 They know God's justice requires that those who do these things deserve to die, yet they do them anyway. Worse yet, they encourage others to do them, too.”
- Romans 2 – “1 You may think you can condemn such people, but you are just as bad, and you have no excuse! When you say they are wicked and should be punished, you are condemning yourself, for you who judge others do these very same things. 2 And we know that God, in his justice, will punish anyone who does such things. 3 Since you judge others for doing these things, why do you think you can avoid God's judgment when you do the same things?... 5 But because you are stubborn and refuse to turn from your sin, you are storing up terrible punishment for yourself. For a day of anger is coming, when God's righteous judgment will be revealed. 6 He will judge everyone according to what they have done. 7 He will give eternal life to those who keep on doing good, seeking after the glory and honor and immortality that God offers. 8 But he will pour out his anger and wrath on those who live for themselves, who refuse to obey the truth and instead live lives of wickedness. 9 There will be trouble and calamity for everyone who keeps on doing what is evil—for the Jew first and also for the Gentile… 11 For God does not show favoritism. 12 When the Gentiles sin, they will be destroyed, even though they never had God's written law. And the Jews, who do have God's law, will be judged by that law when they fail to obey it…You who call yourselves Jews are relying on God's law, and you boast about your special relationship with him. 18 You know what he wants; you know what is right because you have been taught his law. 19 You are convinced that you are a guide for the blind and a light for people who are lost in darkness. 20 You think you can instruct the ignorant and teach children the ways of God. For you are certain that God's law gives you complete knowledge and truth. 21 Well then, if you teach others, why don't you teach yourself? You tell others not to steal, but do you steal? 22 You say it is wrong to commit adultery, but do you commit adultery? You condemn idolatry, but do you use items stolen from pagan temples? 23 You are so proud of knowing the law, but you dishonor God by breaking it. 24 No wonder the Scriptures say, "The Gentiles blaspheme the name of God because of you."
- Romans 3 – “9 Well then, should we conclude that we Jews are better than others? No, not at all, for we have already shown that all people, whether Jews or Gentiles,* are under the power of sin. 10 As the Scriptures say, "No one is righteous—not even one. 11 No one is truly wise; no one is seeking God. 12 All have turned away; all have become useless. No one does good, not a single one." 13 "Their talk is foul, like the stench from an open grave. Their tongues are filled with lies." "Snake venom drips from their lips." 14 "Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness." 15 "They rush to commit murder. 16 Destruction and misery always follow them. 17 They don't know where to find peace." 18 "They have no fear of God at all." 19 Obviously, the law applies to those to whom it was given, for its purpose is to keep people from having excuses, and to show that the entire world is guilty before God.
3. OBL stood in a place to receive God’s mercy in the cross…just like every one of us.
- John 6 – “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty…37 those the Father has given me will come to me, and I will never reject them..40 For it is my Father's will that all who see his Son and believe in him should have eternal life. I will raise them up at the last day."
- John 3 – “16 "For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. 17 God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him. 18 "There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God's one and only Son. 19 And the judgment is based on this fact: God's light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil. 20 All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed. 21 But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants."
- Romans 3 – “21 But now God has shown us a way to be made right with him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses and the prophets long ago. 22 We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. 23 For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God's glorious standard. 24 Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. 25 For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood.”
- 2 Corinthians 5 – “15 He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them…18 And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. 19 For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people's sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. 20 So we are Christ's ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, "Come back to God!" 21 For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin,* so that we could be made right with God through Christ.”
4. OBL's Death Should Not be Celebrated, but Mourned Because He Did Not Follow Jesus Christ.
- Proverbs 17 - 5 Those who mock the poor insult their Maker; those who rejoice at the misfortune of others will be punished.
- Proverbs 24 - 17 Don't rejoice when your enemies fall; don't be happy when they stumble. 18 For the LORD will be displeased with you and will turn his anger away from them. 19 Don't fret because of evildoers; don't envy the wicked. 20 For evil people have no future; the light of the wicked will be snuffed out.
- Job 31 - 29 Have I ever rejoiced when disaster struck my enemies, or become excited when harm came their way? 30 No, I have never sinned by cursing anyone or by asking for revenge.
5. OBL's Death Gives the Righteous Cause to Celebrate God's Justice.
- Proverbs 11 - 7 When the wicked die, their hopes die with them, for they rely on their own feeble strength...10 The whole city celebrates when the godly succeed; they shout for joy when the wicked die.
- Proverbs 28 - 28 When the wicked take charge, people go into hiding. When the wicked meet disaster, the godly flourish.
- Psalm 58 - 10 The godly will rejoice when they see injustice avenged. They will wash their feet in the blood of the wicked. 11 Then at last everyone will say, "There truly is a reward for those who live for God; surely there is a God who judges justly here on earth."
- Psalm 68 - 1 Rise up, O God, and scatter your enemies. Let those who hate God run for their lives. 2 Blow them away like smoke. Melt them like wax in a fire. Let the wicked perish in the presence of God. 3 But let the godly rejoice. Let them be glad in God's presence. Let them be filled with joy.
- Exodus 15 - 21 And Miriam sang this song: "Sing to the LORD, for he has triumphed gloriously; he has hurled both horse and rider into the sea."
Next, I'll deal with some anchor points for thinking through war and violence.