Today, many Americans are tweeting and facebooking about the death of Osama Bin Laden. It is a historic occasion when the President of the United States personally announces the death of one man. It seems many are spontaneously celebrating the death of a terrorist.
But I cannot celebrate.
I understand the joy. There is an inherent happiness when justice, long-delayed, is finally fulfilled. My connections to the 9/11 attacks were powerful. I was hurt because our nation was hurt. Seeing the World Trade Center buildings fall was viscerally etched in my memory. I wept for those lives extinguished by terrorists. Through my tears I vowed to never forget, and I doubt I will. I was encouraged when President Bush said we would bring the guilty to justice. I long for justice in the face of evil.
As well, as a 16 year-old at a church retreat, I vowed through tears to give my life to Christ. I surrendered in hope to the One who made me. I relinquished my will and my values in exchange for the redeeming love of my Savior. Countless times I’ve sung songs of allegiance to my Lord, vowing nothing will come before him.
The world is safer today than it was, I have no doubt. Bin Laden rejoiced at the loss of life on 9/11, but I cannot do the same at his demise. God doesn’t rejoice at the death of sinners, even infamous sinners (2 Pet. 3:9; Prov. 24:17). My allegiance to my nation is strong. Yet my love for my savior is stronger. Because of who He is, I long for God’s blessings of mercy to be known well beyond the shores of our great nation.
I long for justice, but not for me. For myself and my family, I want mercy.
“For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person–though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die–but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. (Romans 5:6-9, ESV)
It may have rightly been God’s hand of justice that took his life. Yet it would be that same hand that takes no pity on me apart from the Son. I too was an enemy of God. Because mercy and rescue are available, and it seems he did not find them, I am saddened by the death of Bin Laden, and the dozens who perished with him.
I long for justice, but only after God’s mercy has been poured out to all who will come to the feast of the Kingdom. For those who did not come to the feast, I feel pity.