Osama Bin Laden, Eternal Punishment, and Pitiful Leadership

I’m a few days late to the party on this one, but I’ve found myself convicted about this issue. My friend Justin wrote a blog on Bin Laden’s death yesterday and it finally kicked me over the fence.

I’m not gonna try and tell you how to feel about any of this, but here’s where I’m at.

There are a large number of professing Christians out there openly rejoicing in the fact that Osama Bin Laden got what he “deserved” and is presently burning in Hell. They’re posting all over the internet, waving signs, throwing parties, and carrying on.

I love you, but need you to understand that you’re failing miserably as leaders.

No Pleasure in Death

A snapshot of the character of God and His heart for non-believers…

“Say to them, As I live, declares the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways, for why will you die, O house of Israel?” Ezekiel 33:11

“I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people [...] that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” 1 Timothy 1-4

“Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.” Isaiah 55:7

Unconditional Love

We have a painfully infinitesimal understanding of God’s love. That’s why a statement such as “God loves Osama Bin Laden every bit as much as He loves you or I” would probably make your head explode. But its the truth.

We want God’s love to fit inside of our human definition, which is cute but inherently flawed. Our love is conditional whereas his is unconditional. We love people as long as they don’t hurt us. He loves people in spite of their hurting Him.

Jesus came and died on the cross to pay the debt for all people who would place their faith in Him. The truth of God’s Word is that His desire is for all people to repent and come to Him. If Osama Bin Laden had done just that, then we could rejoice with the angels in his salvation.

That last statement really wouldn’t sit well with a Pharisee.

Gospel Truth

God is holy and just; His judgement is perfect, yet His desire is that we all would be saved through Christ. [John 3:17] There is hope for even the most vile sinner; the most despicable person you can imagine. If they turn and run to Jesus they can and will be saved.

We who were dead can be made alive in Him. That’s the beauty of the Gospel.

As Christians, our mighty task is to pursue a life that looks like that of Jesus. Ask yourself an honest question in light of Scripture and God’s character. Would the same God who so generously sent His son to reconcile us to Him actually rejoice in condemnation?

Lead with Light

Back to the comment about poor leadership. As Christians, we carry the responsibility of representing our faith to the world. You may be the only contact a non-believer has with the Church. You may be the only person they know who can teach them about Jesus.

If you celebrate death and condemnation, what are you teaching them about God. What are you teaching them about Jesus? If your message is that God is a vengeful deity roaming the skies and mercilessly striking down the wicked, then you’re missing the point.

You’re preaching a false gospel. Go read your Bible.

Truth

Start telling the truth. The invitation for salvation is open to all who would hear and accept it. There are broken and hurting people out there who mistakenly think they are unworthy of God’s grace. Stop feeding them the lies that would confirm that grievous error.

Stop celebrating an event that Christ Himself would undoubtedly weep over. Tell people about the real Jesus; the God of grace and truth, justice and mercy, love and forgiveness. That’s the message that the world needs to hear. That’s the message that will save us all.

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  • http://www.thequeeninprussia.blogspot.com Aimee R.

    It is not a matter of celebrating that OBL got what he deserved. There is rejoicing that a man who ordered the death of thousands can no longer prosper. Celebrating is not wrong. The fine line is WHY we are celebrating. Thoughts? @aimeeonthego

    • http://kennysilva.net Kenny Silva

      I wouldn’t disagree, Aimee. I rejoice in the fact that an unrepentant monster is no longer able to order death and destruction. That same result, however, could have been achieved through repentance, along with a changed heart, a renewed mind, and a new life.

      Can we honestly say that we would rejoice in OBL’s conversion and allowing the payment for his sin to be satisfied at the cross? My heart struggles with the answer to that very question.

      It’s an ugly and hard truth that we would prefer anyone to suffer conscious eternal torment than realize the gravity of their treason against God, repent of their sin, and turn to the Savior who would lovingly grant them salvation.

      Thanks for your comment, Aimee.

  • http://twitter.com/skywardjason Jason Hughes

    Kenny, you get the gospel…..thanks for this much needed message.

    Christ said about the very people that tortured Him, “Forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
    That is the ultimate divine perspective. It would be convenient if that only applied to those who merely inconvenience us, but Christ didn’t give us that option. Those that murder, rape, and destroy the lives of thousands are just as much, if not more, in need of Christ’s love, and our forgiveness.

    The reaction of others that you mention is only an indication of their own lower level of consciousness, and they need our prayers as well.

    I can’t tell you how much I appreciate this post Kenny! Thank you my friend.

    • http://kennysilva.net Kenny Silva

      Thank you very much for your thoughtful words, Jason. I truly appreciate your input, but would be very careful about going so far as to say they’re on a lower level of consciousness. We all come from a variety and I can only pray that folks would come to a better understanding of God, His character, and the Gospel.

      Wether that’s through providential relationships or blog posts such as this is one, this understanding can only be reached by God’s grace and not by any of our own personal effort. In that respect, we are all equally on the lowest level of consciousness and, by God’s grace, are pursuing a better understanding of Him.

      Thank you again for the kind words, Jason. I appreciate you very much. :)

  • http://www.thequeeninprussia.blogspot.com Aimee R.

    “The reaction of others that you mention is only an indication of their own lower level of consciousness, and they need our prayers as well.”

    Jason Hughes, a little self-righteous maybe? If you were the one calling the shots overseas, I am curious to know what you would have done?

  • http://www.jdeddins.com JD Eddins

    I read Justin’s post yesterday and thought it brought some great balance back to discussion of this issue. Thanks for the thoughts you have added as well, I couldn’t agree more with you guys.

    • http://kennysilva.net Kenny Silva

      Thank you for reading, JD.

  • http://www.jdeddins.com JD Eddins

    I read Justin’s post yesterday and thought it brought some great balance back to discussion of this issue. Thanks for the thoughts you have added as well, I couldn’t agree more with you guys.

  • http://twitter.com/PrimarilyRye Matthew Rogers

    Unfortunately Kenny, you and a handful of others are the only Christians I know that are consistently transmitting the 5 points above to the world (based only on my experiences). I’ve lived in a lot of different places and the behavior referenced above is what I perceive as the norm for most Christians I know. As a non-religious man, it is very refreshing to witness your passion and absolute devotion to what you believe in such a “Christ-like” way.

    • http://kennysilva.net Kenny Silva

      Thank you for reading and taking the time to comment, Matt. I want to apologize for every person who has misrepresented Jesus in your experience. So much has been done and said in His name that is completely inconsistent with the nature and character of God. Thanks again.

  • http://TheInvisibleOffice.com Erica Cosminsky

    I’ve been sort of quiet on this subject because of mixed feelings on it. I have an issue celebrating a death. I have a problem with the fact that our government has wasted countless dollars stalking a man since last summer. I have issues with all this happening after OBL has been quiet for years, while he’s been very ill and on kidney dialysis. I also have a real problem with a man using his wife as a human shield. I can’t find it in myself to rejoice over any of this.

    • http://kennysilva.net Kenny Silva

      It’s definitely a very emotionally confusing situation. Certainly not the relief that we may have hoped it would be. Thank you for your comments.

  • Thadd Ngacc

    Here is my dirty sock for your tears. A stain was removed from our fabric that day. The Bible says Thou Shall Not Murder, but this was a killing in context. The Bible finds no fault there. Thankfully, there are God-fearing men willing to do what must be done to protect everybody, even those to meek to do it themselves.

    • http://kennysilva.net Kenny Silva

      Thadd, I appreciate your time and your dirty sock. I understand the need for God-fearing men to courageously defend their loved ones and country. I served alongside of them for several years of my life.

      If you would kindly re-read my post (or read it for the first time,) you would see that my issue is not with our military’s operation. Nor did I refer to this action as murder. The specific issue at hand is the celebration and rejoicing over a sinner’s spiritual death and judgement.

      As far as your stain statement goes, I would not disagree. I would lovingly remind you, however, that apart from Jesus Christ and His blood, both you and I are that same stain. God’s desire, as revealed in His Word, is that we would repent of our sin, turn to Him, and receive that salvation.

      Thanks again for reading and leaving the thoughtful comment.

  • http://websitesgiveback.com/blog/ Elena Patrice

    Your last two post have been top notch Kenny. I truly have to digest what you write before I can respond because they’re worthy of great reflection. I had very ambivalent feelings about this issue and I was trying to think of why and then as the day went on, it became clearer for me. I didn’t forget Osama or downplay what he did – I just let it go a long time ago knowing that God would take care of him how He deemed. Now granted it wasn’t a family member or friend of mine that died that day and I pray I’m never tested that way. However, I just came to peace with it. It took me back a bit seeing the “celebrations” and the harsh reactions; many who were very close to me.

    You thoughtfully, eloquently (as usual) and carefully used God’s Holy Word to demonstrate the error in our reactions, especially as leaders. I’m with you totally on this. We must hold ourselves and our beloved faith to a higher standard! Nothing is more powerful than seen from The Passion as we see Mary Magdalene’s dirty, trembling hand reach up towards Jesus’. That makes me weep because that is me; that is all of us. It comes down to what you wrote about us perhaps being the “only contact a non-believer has with the Church” and really there’s not much else to say.

    Thank you Kenny once again for being rock-solid and a person, blogger, and leader who I can read and know stands his ground, not compromising by making the Truth easy or convenient.

    So glad to see @skywardjason on here!

    Bless you my friend,

    Elena

    • http://kennysilva.net Kenny Silva

      Elena, thank you so much for your kind words and thoughtful comments. I remember the scene that you’re referring to. It was extremely powerful. We’re all in that position and He’s the only one who can save us. May we turn to Him and His grace before ourselves and our “justice.”

  • http://www.mhmcintyre.us Mark McIntyre

    I’m with you on this. Not a cause for celebration. Jesus blessing on those who mourn came to my mind. For what it’s worth, I made some similar comments on this on my blog at http://www.mhmcintyre.us/2011/05/02/a-celebration-of-death/

    • http://kennysilva.net Kenny Silva

      Thank you, Mark. I read your post and agree with your comments there. It’s such a tough issue; not one that we need divide over, but lovingly see each other through.

  • Brady

    Was it wrong for Israel to rejoice after David chopped off Goliath’s head and slaughtered the Philistines?

    • http://kennysilva.net Kenny Silva

      Thank you for your comment, Brady.

      I understand the celebration in his death and the best sense of “justice” that we as humans can provide, although I choose not to participate in that celebration. What I take real issue with, however, is the celebration over a sinner’s just condemnation; a.k.a. celebrating OBL’s eternal punishment apart from Christ.

      Given your specific objection, I’ll admit this is going to be an overly simplistic response. There are just too many differences at play here to outline them in a single comment. If you would like to carry on the discussion, I will be happy to correspond with you via email.

      David slew Goliath in battle at war. If he didn’t, the Israelites would have been immediately taken as slaves. Of course, they would rejoice in their rescue from imminent danger. Again, I’m not saying that a military ‘victory’ in this scenario wasn’t worth some sort of celebration or sense of relief.

      But can we rejoice in the spiritual death and judgement of an unrepentant soul and still believe to be reflecting the nature and character of God? That’s the question and my humble reply is no.

      • Brady

        We were in a situation of war with terrorism too. And OBL was a leader of those terrorists and was also planning to attack us again. I’m glad that there is one less threat against America, but we’ve got a lot more trash to clean up.

        But if you don’t think that illustration fits, how about Samuel hewing King Agag in pieces? According to the Bible the fight was over and Agag and some sheep were all that was left. He was no longer a threat, but Samuel, the man of God, ordered him to be brought and cut him into pieces!

        I also don’t know where you come up with celebrating his “spiritual death”. According to the Bible we are ALL born spiritually dead, thus the reason we must be born again. And I understand that I deserve a literal burning hell as much as OBL does, but I chose to believe in THE Lord Jesus Christ and trust Him as my Saviour. OBL hates Jesus, The Bible, Christians, Jews, and America and would love to kill us all. But he is not in hell for his murder of thousands of Americans(though he will be judged for it) but for his hatred of God and disobedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ.

        And I am one Christian and American who is glad OBL is dead and gone!

        • http://twitter.com/KacyTheDude Kacy Maxwell

          @5bb456053292bf370c9149142aac4b5a:disqus – I would caution choosing events out of the Old Testament and
          simply applying them to today. There are many things that happened under
          the Old Law that do not work once perfection came. (ie. Jesus) He came
          to fulfill the law and told us to love our enemies. We are called to be
          Christians, which means Christ-like. You show me one example when Jesus
          rejoiced in the death of anyone (follower or not) and you will win me
          over.

          @kennysilva:disqus
          – Good post man. Thanks for your leadership.

        • Jacob Riggs

          One very big difference. Americans are not God’s chosen people. We don’t directly carry out God’s purposes in the world. As citizens of a heavenly kingdom, we are called to bring people into that kingdom by sharing the gospel.

  • Brady

    Was it wrong for Israel to rejoice after David chopped off Goliath’s head and slaughtered the Philistines?

  • Brady

    Was it wrong for Israel to rejoice after David chopped off Goliath’s head and slaughtered the Philistines?

  • Brady

    Was it wrong for Israel to rejoice after David chopped off Goliath’s head and slaughtered the Philistines?

  • Brady

    Was it wrong for Israel to rejoice after David chopped off Goliath’s head and slaughtered the Philistines?

  • Brady

    Was it wrong for Israel to rejoice after David chopped off Goliath’s head and slaughtered the Philistines?

  • Brady

    Was it wrong for Israel to rejoice after David chopped off Goliath’s head and slaughtered the Philistines?

  • http://BrandonCordoba.com Brandon Cordoba

    Thank God for you Kenny; this exact thing has been weighing on my heart all week! Might lose a friendship over it unfortunately.

    Thank you so much brother! :) I didn’t have time to write something, yours is better than mine would of been anyways, great job! :)

  • Robert Campbell

    This entire post is flawed in so many ways that it is hard to know where to begin. Let’s just stick to your  “God takes no pleasure in death assertion.”
    Have you never read in the Bible about a place called Jericho? It was there that God ordered “his people” to go in and kill everyone and everything simply so “his people” could take their land. Have you not read how he had “his people” conquered and killed and enslaved by others because they would not behave the way he wanted. Have you not read of Sodom and Gomorrah? Have you not read of the whole “I will kill everyone in the world by sending a flood” story? What about the man David who would line up helpless, unarmed prisoners and slaughter most of them. And this was a man after God’s own heart. What does that tell you about God’s heart?
    My friend, I am afraid that you are like most Christians, who like to quote the parts of the Bible which sound cool to you and ignore the ramifications of the rest of the book. Not very intellectually honest.
    And one more question. Who was the first person to discuss hell and how horrible it was and that people are going to be sent there to rot forever? That person’s name was Jesus.

  • Jacob Riggs

    People are failing as leaders because they are mistaken on this one issue? Maybe you are exaggerating to make a point?