LONDON (BP)–The diversity of comments following the death of Osama bin Laden was evident on most any Facebook news feed.
Some pitied him. Some cheered for the shots fired. “This is a great moment for every American,” one noted.
But Greg Turner* winces at the thought.
“I confess mixed feelings,” said Turner, a Christian leader in Central Asia. “On the one hand, there is no doubt that Osama bin Laden was a wicked man, and there is no injustice in what happened to him.”
But God says in Ezekiel 18:23 that He has no pleasure in the death of the wicked, Turner added.
“If God takes no pleasure in this, then we can commend the justice of bin Laden’s death, but we should never gloat about it,” he said. “Walk wisely, brothers and sisters, and take every opportunity to share Jesus with those on their way toward destruction.”
Drew Carson*, a Christian leader among the peoples of Northern Africa and the Middle East, said Christians can respond in a way that makes clear who they are.
“As people of [God’s] Kingdom, our responsibility is not to respond like a human being but to respond with a Kingdom response,” Carson said. “That way, we won’t just see the moment, but through the moment to the real issue.”
The real issue involves mission, Carson said.
“We should advocate for justice, but we are not on a justice mission. We are on a grace mission. What we do and who we are is from a whole different perspective,” Carson said. “None of us deserves grace, but He’s giving it and wants to give it through our lives.”
It’s not that the military can’t respond in carrying out justice — Romans 13 says the government has the power of the sword, Carson said. “As followers of Christ we want people to have justice, but our job is more the grace job.”
Natalie Shepherd* takes that job seriously. She prayed for 10 years for bin Laden’s salvation.
“Today I still carry a picture inside my Bible of another top terrorist wanted by the United States government,” said Shepherd, a Christian worker in the Middle East. “His photograph reminds me to pray for his salvation and the salvation of his family. And when I look at him, I am reminded that God excels in doing what seems impossible to me. His face reminds me that my God is full of immeasurable grace, delighting to bring even the hardest of earthly criminals into His sheepfold even today.”
Saul is the perfect example of that, she said, explaining that if God transformed Saul into Paul — who reached much of his part of the world with the Gospel in his day — He could transform others for the same purpose.
“I challenge followers of Jesus to pray and fast for the salvation of people like Osama bin Laden who are still alive today so that if and when we hear of their deaths, we won’t party because justice was done but because grace triumphed,” Shepherd said.
*Names have been changed. Ava Thomas is an International Mission Board writer/editor based in Europe.