Today all people want to know is my reaction to the death of Osama Bin Laden. There are people celebrating in the streets and people confused about whether information is legitimate. If you haven't heard, American Special Forces stormed a mansion in Pakistan last night, shooting and killing a resistant Bin Laden. Others in the home were also killed. Bin Laden was buried at sea in "somewhat" traditional Muslim manner of being buried in a sheet (I don't think the being dropped from a helicopter into the sea fits typical tradition).
The standard reaction I've heard has been celebratory shock. There is a triumphant air of accomplishment. People continue to ask me what I think. Including a local reporter, who wrote a story for the local paper.
My initial reaction is a mixture of relief and grief. Obviously there is a relief that someone who seeks the death of others no longer can hurt others. However, I am concerned about the celebratory exuberance of people. Should we as Christians celebrate death? Death is a consequence of seeking to be our own God. Death is a consequence of turning to our own ways. I am trying to think of a time when we are encouraged to celebrate death, unless it is our own self-sacrifice and baptismal death.
If believing Christians celebrate the death of Osama Bin Laden, then how are we any different from Osama Bin Laden celebrating the death of thousands of people in the 9/11 attacks? Is the difference which side you are on? Seems like a strange place to stand. It is especially sad because misinformed people will assume that they are cheering on the side of God.
It seems to me that death is something to lament. I think about the family of Osama Bin Laden, who suddenly must deal with the loss of a husband, father, son, brother, cousin, etc. Many of you will read that and think that I am crazy. Why feel sorry for a murderer? Why attempt to consider the situation of an enemy?
I would like to see Christians lead the way in celebrating life. The God who gives life is love. What we as children of God are to be known for is our love. Celebrating the death of an enemy (while having Biblical precedent) does not seem to imitate the way of Jesus. Christianity will be worthwhile if followers of Jesus show love for enemies. At times this is a tough love for the good of humanity, but more often than not it is a self-sacrificing love that defies logic. Much more would be gained by our unconditional love than by our victory party at a funeral.
The wake of love might call us more to mourn with those who mourn. The wake of love should cause us to grieve that death is ever considered a victory. Ultimately we believe in the God of love who turns the funeral wake into eternal life.