Bottom line, Osama Bin Laden’s death has exposed the blatant immaturity of the North American Church. I guarantee that no one in heaven is doing backflips over hell’s newest arrival. True, Bin Laden has become for many the poster boy for sinister violence and evil (rightfully so), and so we feel a mixed bag of emotions when it comes to his death.
First, we feel jubilation. “We got ‘im. And he finally got what he deserved.” Maybe. But isn’t grace about not getting what we deserved?
Second, we feel relief. “It’s over,” we think, forgetting that a fierce and fiery retaliation is surely on its way. You can’t kill the hydra by cutting off one of its heads.
Third, I hope, perhaps in vain, that we feel some sadness. This is a tragedy, because the blood of Jesus is rich enough to cover even Osama’s treacherous sins.
Our mixed emotions exist because we are mixed, too. Mixed up. Brothers and sisters, it’s way too easy to live by the flesh—to let our old, unredeemed selves displace our new and true selves in Christ. I know that because it happens to me all the time. This past week, in fact.
Our family is on the verge of moving to a different home in the same neighborhood, which means our lives have been stressful. Boxes and packing tape are piling up like we’ve donated our house as a landfill for everyone’s cardboard. We’ve just rocketed through Easter. My headaches have been making a comeback. My fuse has been shortening a little bit each day.
Until Sunday morning, that is. When I had no fuse. Just combustion.
On the way to church, I made a choice that I pray Christians everywhere will make in the coming days: I chose to put my old self to death. Unfortunately, I’d let “it” stand up, straighten its back, and take over—anxious, frustrated, barky, and petty. But there in the minivan, I looked to Jesus, grabbed the skull of that “thing” who’d taken over my life, and shoved it down. I inhaled the presence of God, then took “it” by the hair and drowned it, face down in the holiness of Jesus.
That’s what it felt like.
And then I welcomed Jesus as he filled me again, rose up and stood up again, took his rightful place again, glorious and triumphant. A calm settled over me. Clarity too, along with a gentle spirit and wise words of leadership for my family. I gave a little speech. The atmosphere in the van changed on a dime.
Jesus, live through me, through us. Displace this evil self that has risen up in so many, this spirit of hate and revenge in the place of love and compassion. And I’m sorry. I’m sorry that today, you grieve because you’ve lost a beloved soul precious enough to die for, though many wanted him to die. I’m sorry that what could have been a grace story for the ages has become a blight on your name because your children are choosing bloodlust instead of forgiveness. And Lord Jesus, protect us from the retaliation that is sure to come. Amen.