Saturday, 7 May 2011

The Celebration of Death

Say to them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Ezekiel 33.11

This past week has been one that will be remembered worldwide. The news reports of the death of Osama Bin Laden (right) were met with widespread relief and joy. So much so that the rocky presidential campaign of Barrack Obama has thrown it's Hail Mary pass, and could be in for a touchdown with a second term in office. As a writer it's hard not to look at these events and look for more than the surface meaning.

Throughout these events, while part of me knew that this was a good call by Barrack Obama, part of me had an odd feeling, a feeling of almost sadness over the death of 'The Most Wanted Man in the World.' Then I turned on a news report to pictures of Americans dancing, singing and laughing, with cries of "USA, USA," ringing out in a show of solidarity against this man that had caused them so much hurt. Theses images disturbed me though. They were not dissimilar to the images of Al-Quaeda supporters cheering after the events of The Twin Towers. The same rejoicing at the death of an enemy. To Al-Quaeda all the West is an enemy. To the West in our scapegoat culture Osama Bin Laden was the 'face of terrorism.'

A report showed an interview with a widower of a 9/11 victim, expressing his joy at Osama's death, and his hopes that his wife is looking down from heaven and that Osama is getting what he deserves in hell. Now while Osama will be getting what he deserves in hell, I then realised what this sadness is. I realised that people were rejoicing at the death of a human. Then I realised Christians were rejoicing in the loos of a soul to hell. I looked and realised the radical grace of Jesus was lost on these people.

Up until his last breath Osama could have been saved. Had he asked for Jesus on his deathbed, he would be destined for heaven, his past wrongs forgiven, all the deaths, all the plots, all the terrorism. The radical grace that Jesus embodied to us is available for all, even Osama. Jesus said to them, "It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners." Mark 2:17

Had these people been asked 'Would you be happy to know that Osama is in heaven?' most would be outraged by the concept. I presume he is not, but had he asked for Jesus he would be, and many of these people would have spent eternity with him. But to be outraged is to misunderstand the gospel. The gospel is for the broken, for the sinner. The gospel asks people to call on Jesus and repent of their sins. If Osama had called on Jesus he would have felt the weight of his wrongdoings, the weight of his terrorism, yet he would have been born again, completely changed.

Many of us Christians forget that Paul, one of the most prominent members of Christian history, the founder of the early church who has such a hand in the way we have conducted ourselves as Christians throughout the ages was a terrorist himself. Had he been around now he would be on all sorts of Most Wanted lists. He used to go around killing Christians in mass. The reason he got away with it was because like Hitler, he picked on an unliked people group. The power of grace is shown through Paul's story. The fact he became the leading gospel preacher of that time is a phenomenal demonstration that God can use any situation, any person for His glory.

So I for one, mourn the death of Osama as a soul lost to hell. I imagine the sheer weight of the testimony had he been saved, the challenge it would have put on our understanding of grace. Yet still I am thankful that my God is just, and that as this man did not accept Jesus, he will receive just punishment. But what a powerful testimony that would of been.


  1. David.

    I feel that the entire notion of this article is misguided in it's own right, on more than one level.

    I am struggling to find where to begin.

    I'll start with this. Whilst the concept of forgiveness is a noble one, especially in the heart of Western morality. To suggest that one could be forgiven by accepting Jesus rather than addressing the true nature of ones acts of selfishness is outright offensive to those of us who don't believe. And some of those who do believe.

    What you have written gives me the idea that you believe Osama Bin Laden's biggest crime was not taking Jesus, or the message, to heart. Let me tell you. It wasn't.

    I would fully agree with you on another point or two. It's disgraceful that people are celebrating. The chants of USA, USA echoing out across airwaves is essentially a parody of itself. It's a shining example of stereotype that led towards hatred of America and Americana. It's fanaticism at it's worst.

    But let me say: All fanaticism is bad. Osama was bad. The American citizens chanting USA, USA is bad. And unfortunately, the fanaticism that preaches forgive everyone for every deed as long as they repent to Jesus, is just as damning, destructive and detrimental to society.

    Peace Brother

  2. Jesus man, you can't simply weigh all of the consequences of his actions on whether or not this man gets into heaven or not. The existence of heaven does not make any actions taken on earth have any less meaning, and to act like all he would have to do to make it right is to accept jesus into his heart is a pretty strong, (and wrong) statement.

    What about all the people affected by 9/11 who weren't christian? Do you think that they would be at peace, knowing the one that brought them so much pain and suffering simply gets a hall pass because he accepts jesus? Or do you simply not care if they haven't accepted christ?

    I disagree with your sentiments about Paul. I think his story may show that 'God' can use any situation to his advantage, but does that make it morally right? If there was someone going round, as you say, killing christians in mass, then would you really WANT them as a preacher in this day and age?

    I dunno man it just seems like a narrow minded view. I agree that the celebration of his death was a bit much, with people in the USA celebrating in the streets it just seemed a tad morbid. But still. There is more to life than getting into heaven, whether you believe it or not.

  3. Good post Davey. I agree that Jesus' grace is fantastically, overwhelmingly, controversially and sometimes offensively radical. To go even further, the Bible doesn't seem to rank people by how good they are relative to other people, but by the fact we are all sinners (as bad as each other) and in need of grace. I don't say that lightly, and I can understand why this would be a major stumbling block to think that someone like Osama could possibly be in heaven at all, but God's standard is incredible, his holiness all-consuming. I think that's a good thing: would we want to follow a God that is less than completely perfect and good?

    That said, I don't quite agree with your interpretation of Paul as a terrorist. I know there isn't an agreed definition of terrorist, but one of the things that does seem to be agreed upon is that it's someone (or a group of people) acting outside of the law, of government. I'm being I know, and I know that technically the Jews weren't in any sort of power (the Romans were), but in a sense, they were one of the major political and religious powers of the time, and Paul was acting for them.

    But the main thrust of your point was about rejoicing in death. I had this discussion with my Dad (who's a Christian) about the death of Saddam Hussein. I asked him if he was happy that Saddam was dead, and he said he was. It really saddened and frustrated me, because I felt just like you in this post - that we should never rejoice at the death of anyone, because it represents part of our brokenness, which we all share.

    Keep posting your thoughts dude!

  4. Dave, as your sister, this post worries me.

    I understand how you feel about God/Jesus/etc unconditional love and forgiveness, and I myself am not particularly judgemental of Osama cause in a sense he did what he did because he BELIEVED he was doing the best thing.

    However, the reality is, God or no God, this world is ruled by a massive greedy capitalist monster - People want things to be a certain way, they want a 'devil' and an enemy to make sense of the good. The governments and media will direct the enemy to the countries that are not bringing humongous amounts of money into the capitalist/consumerist cycle...
    If the tables were turned, the western or chrisitan society of the world might be the terrorists (and to people like Osama, we were), but unfortunately since the west holds the money, the influence, the manipulation and the power, than it is the West's way that is right.

    You need to look at how you want to utilise God's forgiveness and love into your society, but you can't do that if you don't know what your society is. We are (without sounding scary) a brainwashed, moulded and manipulated bunch, what God can offer a society like ours is way to look at the world that is not greedy, self-obsessed, and that is basic and elemental and kind. THAT is what you need to work on.
    Your opinion that God would forgive society's biggest enemies is irrelevant, unfortunately, nobody cares about this - they will react in horror beause you are saying something completely out-there, and there isn't any point.

    Your heart is in the right place - you want people to see God's love and forgiveness for all mankind, but unfortunately your intellectual awareness of our economic coapitalist state is nill, and you need to understand that to understand how you will be able to help God into people's lives.

    I am glad you feel that God's love and forgiveness is so strong, and I think you should now utilise this belief constructively. I would say trying to convince people about osama, probably isnt' constructive.

    Lots of Love,
    Cath xxxx

  5. Right it seems appropriate I write a response...

    Anon 1

    The heart of the Christian message is that forgiveness is not earned. Despite that it is not cheap forgiveness. Jesus asks us to "take up your cross and follow me." Now while I completely understand that the idea of forgiveness being obtained by accepting Jesus can seem offensive, to accept Jesus is not merely to absolve yourself of responsibility. God holds us responsible for our actions, and although accepting Jesus secures our eternal destiny, we as Christians still have to be held responsible for our actions and face the consequences, as I know all too well. So I would argue the true nature is addressed.

    While his biggest crime is the acts of terror, man's biggest crime is turning away from God, sinning against our creator. To a Christian the biggest crime is rejecting Jesus.

    I'm sorry if I have come across like a fanatic, but as I don't know who you are I do not know if I know you personally, but you will know I am not a fanatic by any means. I am just a Christian who is attempting to tell it how it is straight from the bible, not how people want to hear it.

    Anon 2

    I think you have misunderstood the point of my blog. This is on the topic of heaven and hell, not the consequences of his actions. I believe that Osama could have accepted Jesus on his death bed and gone to heaven. At the same time he would have felt the weight of his actions trust me.

    I want to clarify quickly I in NO WAY agree with the actions of Osama Bin Laden, and think he made many wrong choices. In reference to all those involved in 9/11, those who are not Christian should not really care in the whether this man gets to heaven or hell. I am always confused with people who are angered by the idea of a man like Osama in heaven when they don't even really believe in heaven. I want to emphasize he does not get a hall pass, he does not get special treatment, but we are all looked at the same by God. We are sinners, and unless we accept Jesus the weight of our sin comes down on us. If we accept Jesus the weight of that sin falls on Him. I encourage you to read Luke 23:38-43. The two men crucified either side of Jesus were both criminals. Their crimes are not stated, so for all we know they could have been mass murderers. One of them accepts Jesus on the cross and Jesus replies "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise." Now this criminal never gets the chance to make up for his wrongdoings, but yet he is saved. This same salvation is available to all.

    I would love a preacher who had turned from being a mass murdered. I think it would speak volumes of God's radical grace. When I see these people we so often like to judge and write-off I love to think how they would be used in God's kingdom.

    Again I do not know who you are, but if you knew me personally, you would know I am not narrow minded, but as a Christian, life boils down to my way or God's way. That's not just relating to heaven and hell, but in every action I take.


    Cheers for the support mate.

  6. Cath

    Thank you for recognizing my heart is in the right place. I completely understand the world is ruled by people. People that may have rejected God themselves, people that love money, people that hate. People. People are very flawed you and I included, and in my day to day life I try to structure my faith in a way that is making a difference. A lot of these things will be unheard of though, unnoticed, but inevitably will be the things that make the biggest difference.

    In terms of this blog, I want people to think. The Christian gospel does believe this, and sadly over the years has been so watered down that people don't really know what Christians believe anymore. I'm trying to change this, trying to re-align my views with that of the bible, doing this in a bible-believing church and with many friends who are attempting to do the same.

    I don't think this is irrelevant, and I think people do care, by the responses already. This man has been the face of western hate for years, and I'm trying to challenge the judgmental perspective we have on him. He has the right like any human to repent of his wrongdoings and accept Jesus. We can't bracket this for certain people as in God's eyes we are all sinners. We didn't live in a country torn by war, we didn't live in a country where our sacred areas were marched on by US troops, and we didn't grow up with Islamic extremism on our doorstep. Maybe if we had things would be different for us, but the forgiveness of Jesus would still have been as available.

    Please continue to comment...

  7. AMERICA INVADED IRAQ, THE US GOVERNMENT BLEW UP THE TWIN TOWERS TO JUSTIFY IT. THE ONLY REASON OSAMA BIN LADEN IS "DEAD" IN THE MEDIA IS BECAUSE OBAMA NEEDS A REASON TO KEEP THE TROOPS OVER THERE TO TAKE MORE OIL...They showed you the video of when they hung saddam hussein but all they'll show you of the death of osama is a picture of a bloody floor...don't believe everything you see on T/V remember even news is "entertainment"

  8. Dave. I'm Anon 1.

    I did know you. Before you were a dedicated Christian. You were a good human being. A credit to yourself and your friends.

    The only thing that has soiled you is you uptake of fanatical Christianity. You were always vulnerable to fall into something like that. On the fringe. I guess it's easy to believe in God when it comes with being the centre of a peer group and cool hair cuts.

    Everyone wants to be accepted, and nobody blames anyone for doing so. But be accepted for who you are in a community that is based on logic and mutual human respect rather than on a false ideology that you all work towards.

    We miss geeky Dave that didn't act in a certain way to fit into a certain group.

    Don't throw your life away for a shot at eternity.

    We'll wait for you.


  9. I'm guessing you might be Simon Jago/Thomas Finch?

    Thanks man, kind words. I did try my hardest to be one of the 'good guys.' I guess we all did. We weren't a bad bunch.

    Just to make a point, I did get the cool hair cuts before I started becoming a 'fanatical Christian.' I admit I always felt like a fringe player, and yes, faith has given me a certain identity, which is fantastic. There are a lot of people out there just like me who are feeling like fringe players, and Christianity has always been for these guys, so it's not a huge surprise me and God found each other.

    Jesus said to them, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners." Mark 2:17

    Geeky dave was a phase. I grew out of him, but had a lot of fun memories. Your opinion on whether I have thrown my life away is up to you, I would beg you to know me again before you make that judgement, but 'for a shot at eternity.' This isn't the reason for my faith, I don't wanna jump ship at get to heaven at the first opportunity, not at all. I honestly think my faith has pointed me more towards what is broken in this world, and to try and help fix it. If anything, I'm more attached to the world then I've ever been.

    It would be good to have a proper chat about this stuff, hit me up on Facebook.