In this past week many have written about the death of Osama bin Laden, and because of this I thought that would not write. However, as the week progressed and I found myself engaged in conversations about Osama’s death, I felt that I needed to write.
My thoughts reflect upon the response of Christians to Osama’s killing. Those who are not Christian can respond according to their beliefs. Yet, as Christians, the reality of the life, death, resurrection, and anticipated return of Jesus of Nazareth actually affects our responses to situations like this.
I will begin with an excerpt from my journal upon hearing the news that Osama bin Laden had been killed, and I will end with some quotes that a friend sent to me as he reflected upon the killing ~ they help to articulate the myriad of thoughts in my head.
“I admit that I’m saddened to read all the news articles because they tell of how many people were/are rejoicing in the streets. Yes, this man planned and/or headed operations that killed many people, but I find it difficult to rejoice over the death of someone. I’m not trying to sound pious…”
I am also saddened by all of the debates occurring via Facebook status updates and Twitter – especially those that use Scripture as “Bible Bullets” in an attempt to defeat and to silence another’s opinion. In the cacophony of voices and words saying, “Right… Wrong… Just… Unjust… Yes!… No…” maybe I just wanted silence – the same silence as when I hear that anyone has been killed.
The World voraciously consumes reactions from all angles, groups, and positions. And, the Church should respond to help the World understand how Christians view life and death differently in light of God’s redeeming and reconciling work through the life, death, and life-again of Jesus Christ.
When I say, “the Church” I do not mean a specific denomination or specific tradition. I do not mean the Church in the EU or the Church in the USA or the Church associated with any nationality. The Church, while comprised of members from all nations, stands outside of any national allegiance.
The following quotes – while coming from people located within specific traditions – speak from the truth of Christianity that transcends all traditions and national loyalties.
“Christians do not celebrate the death of murderers; Christians celebrate the death of the saints.” ~ Rev. Dr. William Turner, Professor of Homiletics, Duke Divinity School
“Osama bin Laden – as we all know – was gravely responsible for promoting division and hatred between peoples, causing death of countless innocent lives, and of exploiting religions to this end. Faced with the death of a man, a Christian never rejoices, but reflects on the serious responsibility of each and every one of us before God and before man, and hopes and commits himself so that no event be an opportunity for further growth of hatred, but for peace.” ~ Fr. Federico Lombardi, Vatican Press Office Director, in response to journalists’ questions on the killing of Osama bin Laden.
I do not intend for this to be a post about Just War v. Non-Violence or the Right v. Wrong of the killing. I am concerned, though, in how Christians respond to killing and how do Christians’ responses – whatever they may be – witness to God’s plan for reconciling and restoring all members of Creation into right relationships with God and with one another.
I hope I have articulated a bit of what I am thinking and feeling.