There are several things that I would like to say about the death of Osama Bin Laden. I have found the reaction of the public to be interesting and even a bit upsetting at times. I also find in my own heart that there is a tension to how I actually feel about his death and how I think I should feel about his death.
I have read, many times, that a Christian should not rejoice over the death of the wicked, in this case Osama Bin Laden, but rather we should rejoice that justice has been done. I want to question part of that statement. I question whether or not justice was done by shooting Bin Laden in the head.
Christians ought to be wiser when they speak about things like this. Surely, the mere death of this wicked man did not bring true justice. This man is responsible for the murders of thousands of people, and he was a catalyst for war, bigotry, and hate all over the globe. His nefarious plans put the entire Western world under a blanket of fear that has covered all, including Muslims. His death rectified none of this.
The reason that Christians ought to be wise when they speak of 'justice' is because, when they speak of it, they mean something different than the culture at large. At least, in the Christian idea of justice, there is much more packed into that concept than 'ceasing to exist'. Christians believe in a judgment. We believe that every man must give an account before his Maker for all the works that he has done, and that at this judgment, justice will be served.
For someone who is agnostic, atheist, or simply undecided, this is an avenue of thought that they might consider exploring if Christians were educated enough to speak of it. If there is no God, then there is no judgment. Thus, true justice is unobtainable. Allow me to illustrate:
Let's say that, tomorrow, as I leave the office, a masked man demands my wallet at gun point. Out of fear for my life, I hand over my wallet. Unsatisfied with the wallet, the robber decides to beat me and leave me for dead. In the end, I recover and the criminal is caught. He is forced by the justice system to repay me seven-fold for what he took, and he even apologizes for the incident. Is justice served? Who decides? Is justice really served when I still get panic attacks when I leave the office, or when I am approached by a stranger? Can true justice take that away? How much more unsatisfactory is 'justice' when I murderer is simply put to death? Does that really make the families of murder victims feels that real justice is served?
Justice was not served when Osama bin Laden was shot to death. If we are not careful, we put government in the place of God when we say this. The government is ordained of God to maintain order and to meet out justice, as we know it, here in this world. But government is only a servant of God. Government, in the case of bin Laden, served as a sort of bailiff that ushered him into the presence of the only Judge who can actually dispense justice. For now, bin Laden is awaiting that final judgment. Rest assured, his wait is not pleasant, but the final verdict yet remains.
So Christian, as you think about the death of wicked men and about the concept of justice, be careful how you speak. Do not attribute final justice to the barrel of a gun, but rather, to God alone. The Christian idea of justice is both rich and soul-satisfying, do not miss an opportunity to speak about it to those who may never have heard of it before.
I am a pastor serving in my hometown of Albertville, Alabama. The greatest evidence of God's grace in my life are my wife, son, and daughter. One look at me and then my wife will tell you that her "yes" was a modern day miracle. Otherwise, I am almost completely mundane.