I don’t have an awful lot to say about the death of Osama bin Laden. He was a very bad man, and we should be glad that he is now in a place where no injustice will ever come. Unjust men can come there, as bin Laden just did, but no injustice ever will. The afterlife is a holy place. Hell is a holy place.
Just a few cautions for Christians as they talk about this. The fact that we are all sinners, and that we all deserve death and judgment, is quite true. But if we hasten to remind ourselves of this reality at moments like this, the effect is not to heighten our sense of awareness of sin, but rather to flatten it. A bizarre kind of moral equivalence takes over our thought processes, and we begin to think that God will have no work to do in the judgment whatever — all He has to settle is that we are all sinners and we all died. But God will not judge us by the crateload. The Bible teaches plainly that the unconverted will be judged in accordance with their works, and the Scriptures say just as clearly that not all works are the same. Evil is something that can grow and mature. And when it does this, the judgment is greater. The judgment is so great, and the issues so momentous, that only God can do it. We should leave the judgment to Him, and when He judges the nations of men, that will truly be one of His greatest works. The only thing historically greater will be His accomplishments in the salvation of the nations of men.
I am writing this in Prague, as we having been spending some time in Eastern Europe, in countries that were formerly in the Soviet block. We just came from Poznan, Poland, where we were privileged to visit a post-commie shopping mall. It was a very nice mall, and the posters and ads had a bunch of the usual sins and follies that you would find in an upscale mall. But it was nothing like what used to happen here — when a million Poles were taken off to Siberia, for example, and never heard from again. We were sitting with some of our friends, having a beer on the old town square, and were talking about families that were touched by this. I asked if, in a group this size, there would be stories about such families in every group. Oh, yes, was the answer. In our small group, one man’s grandfather was taken. Another man, a Ukrainian, grew up in Siberia because his father was taken there. Another man said, yes, his wife’s family lost loved ones. Compare all this to some chick with too much eye make up for a regular person, much less for someone on a fifteen foot tall poster.
Osama was a violent and evil man, and so we should thank God he is dead. He was killed by men who, by all accounts, were not exactly cub scouts themselves. But any kind of flattening, any kind of moral equalizing, any attempt to witness to a co-worker by talking about the death of bin Laden, and then pivoting to a discussion of your aunt who sometimes gets into the cooking sherry too much, will the effect of representing the Christian faith as morally clownish.
This is not my subject here, but please note that I am arguing for a sense of proportion here, and I am not arguing that the measuring stick is made in America. The ghouls who run the abortion industry, and their shills in the halls of Congress, kill more Americans every day than bin Laden did in his one major flame-out, and the Navy Seals aren’t coming after them.
The judgment seat of God is the place where every necessary distinction is remembered, every nuance is in its place, every discrepancy noted, and every cup of cold water counted. Not to put too fine a point on it, the judgment seat is a place where God makes judgments. Too many Christians talk about it as though judgment day were simply a cosmic steamroller. Of course, we have not forgotten the basic division between those who are in Christ and those who are not, but that is not the time when God then fires up the steamroller. Moral distinctions matter. God makes them, and He is infinitely good.
So we know this situation is more complicated than what we hear on the news, for that is always the case. But recognize the limitation, and simply thank God for this one good thing. Thank God that Osama has come to justice, and while you are at it, thank God for the call made by President Obama. If you’re as conservative as I am, it will probably do your soul some good.