Skipping the celebration

Published 10:03 pm Monday, May 9, 2011

I have to admit something that won’t make me popular — the images of people celebrating Osama bin Laden’s death left a bad taste in my mouth.

I’m still as angry about the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2011, as anybody. My senior English class at my Christian high school came to an abrupt halt when someone came to the door to tell my teacher about the attacks. We prayed while a television was wheeled into our classroom. We watched the tragedy unfold. We saw people run screaming down the streets of New York, covered in dust. We saw people leaping from the towers to escape the flames.

I led chapel services later that week and silently wept as a classmate prayed to rebuke the rain that was hampering rescue efforts. My yearbook class was frightened later that week to hear planes flying low over our school. It would be months before I could hear a plane overhead without giving it a second thought.


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But after all this, I still can’t find myself in a celebratory mood over bin Laden’s death.

I’m not devastated. I don’t wish he had been granted the opportunity to continue his campaign of terror around the world. I just don’t think there’s anything to celebrate.

Yes, the people of many other countries danced in their streets and burned the American flag as the towers fell, as the Pentagon burned and as a plane fell into a field in Pennsylvania. But that doesn’t mean we have to display a similar reaction.

Instead, God wants Christians to respond differently. The issue is addressed numerous times in the Scriptures, perhaps most notably in Matthew 5:44-45 — “Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.”

Yes, you read that right. God wants us to love Osama bin Laden.

For almost every American, that’s a revolting sentence to read.

But consider the fact that Jesus Christ knew what he was talking about. He spent His life here on earth loving His enemies. He became flesh to love a humanity that had turned against His father. He healed those nobody else would go near. He was tortured and dragged to mock trials and spit upon and lashed with a whip. And finally, as He was dying, He begged forgiveness from the Heavenly Father for the people who were killing him.

It’s probably easier for me to say this than it would be for someone who knew somebody who died in the terrorist attacks, or who has died in the ensuing wars. I’ve been relatively sheltered from the effects of bin Laden’s reign of evil, and maybe that makes it easier for me.

But no matter how bin Laden’s life or death affected you, I’d like to encourage you to pray instead of celebrate.

Pray for bin Laden’s family. Pray for the troops who were involved in the raid, and praise God that none of them were killed. Pray that America’s intelligence network can use the information gathered at bin Laden’s compound to thwart future attacks.

But just don’t celebrate. If bin Laden had come to a saving relationship with Jesus Christ instead of becoming a terrorist, THAT would have been worth celebrating.