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Monday, May 2, 2011

A Political Victory, or a Spiritual Tragedy?

A friend posted on facebook last night, "Who needs the news when I have facebook?"  Around 9:30 and 10:00 every other post was announcing Osama bin Laden's death.  My initial reaction was one of relief--finally, the ring leader of Al Quaeda is dead.  And then, to my shame, I thought, I wonder how Satan felt about this.  It's a victory for our side, right?  One of Satan's most powerful tools is gone, after all.

My wonderful and wise fiance reminded me, when I voiced this thought, that Satan probably laughed: he had claimed another man for his own.  God would not want me to consider this a victory.  He weeps whenever one of his created people is lost to Satan.  It hit me:

Jesus died for Osama bin Laden for the same reason He died for me.  Paul wrote in his first epistle to Timothy that God "wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth" (1 Tim. 2:4).  John wrote in his Gospel, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16).  The Gospel is for ALL people.  Jesus died to save the world.  That includes bin Laden just as surely as it includes me.

Some are calling bin Laden the "Hitler of our generation."  That he may be.  He certainly is responsible for the deaths of millions of people.  It was the attack on our country that he orchestrated that caused the war that has lasted for the last decade.  This man was responsible for much grief, pain and death.

But Jesus took all bin Laden's sins on himself, just as he took my sins on himself.  "For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God," Paul writes in Romans 3, "and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus."  The death of Osama bin Laden is a tragedy, because he rejected the saving grace of Jesus Christ and will now spend eternity separated from God.  Who could rejoice at such a thing?

I rejoiced yesterday, watching over 20 confirmands profess their faith in Jesus Christ.  Two of them, adults, had been born and raised Buddhist, and have recently come to faith in Jesus.  That was cause to rejoice: two more people are members of the Body of Christ and will spend eternity in heaven with him.

I don't want to sound legalistic or holier-than-thou.  I admitted that at first I felt relief knowing bin Laden was dead.  But I feel greater relief at knowing that in Jesus, I am alive, by the grace of God.

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