Thoughts on OBL
You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you..
I was watching a movie (ironically, one about a news show) when we got the call.
"Turn on the news! Osama Bin Laden is dead!"
But I didn't--turn on the news that is.
I continued watching my movie, knowing that tomorrow and the next day I'd hear plenty about OBL and his death and probably more than I'd really want to.
And of course, it was everywhere--how they found his location, how they gunned him down, how long they'd known about his whereabouts (and don't even get me started on why it took so long to act), etc, ad nauseum. There were pictures of people outside the White House yelling and follicking in happiness at the thought that one of the world's most well-known (and elusive) terrorists was now dead. But somehow I wasn't moved with joy.
I thought about it. What would his death really mean in terms of my life? My day would go on just as it would normally--work, home, cooking, laundry, sleep--wash and repeat. I looked on headlines like "Death of Osama heals old wounds," and I couldn't help but think that reveling in the death of a man (even a mass murderer) wouldn't make the cycle of hate stop, nor truly heal anyone's wounds, and where one terrorist has been put to death, there are so many more left to conquer. Osama's death was a battle won, a symbolic one, but it isn't even close to winning the war.
And while I agree that the world may be safer (for now), a wise Pastor I know quipped "he was a starfish, not a spider." The difference? A starfish can have any member cut off and it simply regrows. Hate begets hate. It's a nasty cycle and Osama's death can't change it. In fact, where he died there are hundreds more ready and willing to take his place. We're no safer in reality than we were three days ago.
I digress, so what are we really talking about here?
What I am not saying is that we should all be sad that OBL is dead or in some way feel sorry for him, or discount the affect he had on thousands of people's lives.
What I am asking is for us to think differently about the meaning of his death. What we should all be sad at is what still lives. The demonic whisper that hate is still the answer is alive and well. It's on facebook and twitter--it's on the TV and in newspapers, it's in our schools and our churches. We cannot help what others do, but we can choose how we respond to it. If we respond with hate, we simply keep the cycle in motion. The enemy would revel in that.
I think we have to ask ourselves one question when we respond to the death of people like OBL as Christ followers: Does our response empower the Kingdom of God, or just the opposite? Are we continuing the cycle of hate, or stopping it in its tracts (I'd like to think the latter)?Are we spamming the internet with scornful (and tasteless) jokes and jargon---facebook and twitter this week will testify to that--or are we somber in the face of any man's death since it is the Lord who gives and takes life. ( Job 1: 21 The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.)
How we respond matters deeply and it sends a message to people, whether we want it to or not. We empower one kingdom or another with our words, written or spoken. (Proverbs 18:21) If Jesus's life (death and resurrection) taught us anything it's this: you can't fight fire with fire. An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind, it does, really! We can't stop the cycle of hate by hating more......we have to counter it with Love of God. As people of God our responses should well up out of the love we've been given.
Osama's death may have been justice, but take into account the death of Saul in the OT. Saul was David's archenemy so to speak, but even when Saul finally died, David's response was somber. Notice again and again when enemies are defeated in the OT, it was always the Lord who got credit for it and it was Him they praised. (Kingdom Focused)
While one terrorist is dead, there's only One Man's death (and resurrection) that ended the cycle of darkness and made it possible for us to be truly alive. His Kingdom is love, His message is life, and He's the only One that can turn darkness into light, truly heal our wounds and transform mourning into joy. If our response doesn't reflect Him, than we are the ones who've lost the battle this time.