O Me of Little Faith

O Me of Little Faith

The Death of Osama bin Laden

Miscellaneous thoughts upon the death of Osama bin Laden:

• I feel pride and a national sense of accomplishment, because finally, we got him. Good job, U.S. intelligence, U.S. military, and President Obama.

• I feel happy that justice has been done. Yes, it’s a human kind of justice — a guy who killed lots of people has himself been killed — but it’s the only kind of justice we’ve got and I think it’s OK to find some joy in it.

• While I can find joy in justice, I feel less happy about celebrating the death of a person. Even a person we all view as evil. Because the reason we view him as evil is the fact that he killed without guilt, and he found joy in the killing. Yes, I realize there’s a difference between killing innocents (from bin Laden’s side) and killing the guilty (from our side), but death is death and it’s hard for me to find happiness in it. “Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when he stumbles, do not let your heart rejoice…” (Proverbs 24:17)


• Part of me is uncomfortable with the street reveling following the news. I understand the need for community and certainly can get behind the patriotism and relief that fuels it. But I also know how angry I got at the scenes of street celebrations in other countries following the terrorist acts. As my friend Matt wrote on his Facebook page, “Come on, America. This isn’t the first murderous terrorist we’ve killed. Act like you’ve been here before.” Might restraint be a better response?

• And another part of me is saying, “What if you’d lost someone in the 9/11 attacks? You have no idea how you’d respond, and you have no right to judge how anyone else responds in Washington or New York, so shut up.”


• (Except for the obviously drunk frat guys waving flags around. We can be annoyed at them.)

• I love that it was a team of Navy SEALS that did it. I love that it wasn’t a missile, but an on-the-ground, Jack-Bauer-style raid. I love that it was an event that had been in the planning stages for months.

• I love that President Obama has quietly been planning this event while detractors have still been hung up on stupid things like his U.S. citizenship. Had I been president, I wouldn’t have been able to keep from telling them to shut up because I was busy, you know, finding Osama bin Laden.

• I love that, when I told my kids about it this morning on the way to school, my daughter’s first question was “Did anybody else die? Other than him?” I told her that no Americans had been killed in the raid. “But what about the other people in the house?” Yes, they were killed, I told her. “They were bad guys?” Yes, I think so. But it makes me proud that her first thoughts were on who had died, and how many. Death is serious.

What are/were your thoughts?


Comments read comments(41)
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Jeff Goins

posted May 2, 2011 at 9:58 am

I have these same conflicted feelings, Jason. Thanks for putting it so well.

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posted May 2, 2011 at 10:02 am

Haven’t you heard? They supposedly gave bin Laden a Islamic burial at sea. There is no body, therefore no actual proof that bin Laden is dead. I do believe that reports of bin Laden’s death is an attempt by the Obama administration to garner votes for the 2012 presidential election.

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posted May 2, 2011 at 10:04 am

My first thoughts were from the theme song of Team America.

But further reflection was less joyous. I don’t see how justice can EVER be done when you start talking about this kind of scale. And I certainly don’t see how death = justice. And I REALLY don’t see how celebrating death = pro-life.

Ultimately I’m conflicted about this. Like most things. ;-D

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ed cyzewski

posted May 2, 2011 at 10:05 am

I was meditating this morning about how Jesus reached out to the Roman centurions, tax collectors, and Jewish zealots. He kept a very mixed company. So while I want justice to be done, I also want to be faithful to the radical love of Jesus that was big enough to reach out to his enemies. I don’t know what this looks like on a national scale, but this morning I feel that it is appropriate to pray for the people in the Middle East who may be enraged by our act, the people who may be saddened, our soldiers who have to deal with post-traumatic stress when they return home, the families of our soldiers who support them, and those impacted by 9-11 who have something difficult to process today. God mourns with all.

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Susie M. Finkbeiner

posted May 2, 2011 at 10:06 am

Jason, your daughter’s question made me cry a little. What a beautiful heart she must have.

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posted May 2, 2011 at 10:19 am

I had similar thoughts (and blogged about them this morning… perhaps less eloquently). It’s that same internal conflict that’s keeping me from starting a class discussion today–I think we all need to digest a bit before engaging in unfettered discourse. I don’t mean not talking or writing about it, but rather carefully measuring our words and actions in these first few days, especially while the world watches to see how we react. It may mean the difference between fringe retaliation (there’s sure to be some, let’s face it) and larger retaliation out of others’ distaste for our, well, decorum.

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Jere Tooley

posted May 2, 2011 at 10:21 am

The tinfoil-hat conspiracy theorist in me was/is not prepared to believe it yet. I don’t like how he has already been ‘buried at sea’ but I get it, we don’t need another West Bank situation. Whether he’s really dead or not (for the record,98% of me thinks he is) the real value is that we can put the Osama thing to bed. One way or another- and America can get on with her life.

It would be nice to think that there would be some positive residual side effects like more troops coming home or lower gas prices, but I’m not gonna put too much hope into that just yet.

I love your daughter’s introspective into the situation, she’s got humanity already built-in it sounds like, but that’s not without good parenting.

All in all, its sad that yet another person has to die, mankind isn’t sophisticated enough or intelligent enough to co-exist without such things just yet- and we still have to live by some older codes that evil people just have to die. The chemicals and synaptic passages in their brains aren’t like the rest of us, and if they have their way, there wouldn’t be a rest of us.

Thanks for your story, Jason- I appreciate all of your entries, but I really appreciated you taking this on.

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posted May 2, 2011 at 10:22 am

I have pretty much all of the same conflicted feelings, and I appreciate that Jason was able to articulate all of them while I was still trying to find the words. I will only add that while I endeavor to see every person as an image-bearer of God, I can’t ignore the context that this particular image-bearer lived his life in such a way that millions and millions of people are now ecstatic that his life is over.

So I can only gather up my conflicted feelings and say, “Christ have mercy.”

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Dave H

posted May 2, 2011 at 10:23 am

Well put. Just one thought, though: Jack Bauer’s got nothing on Navy SEALS …

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posted May 2, 2011 at 10:24 am

You articulated how I was feeling about bin Laden’s execution spot on. Thanks for the reminder from Proverbs 24:17.

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Celso Santos

posted May 2, 2011 at 10:26 am

It was a great way to express your feelings and pour out heart. I’m proud of you. God bless you and your family

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posted May 2, 2011 at 10:26 am

Like your daughter, my first thought too was if anyone else had been killed – innocent bystanders. It appears that one female was used as a human shield from the cnn reports. I also have your similarly conflicted feelings of whether we need this justice. And now I see reports that terrorists plan to avenge Osama’s murder, and I wonder if we have just prolonged the vicious cycle of hate and terror. There are really no good answers to all this.

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Jim Mather

posted May 2, 2011 at 10:29 am

War in a fallen world is sometimes necessary. War is not something to celebrate. I look forward to the day when our weapons will be laid down and there will be no more tears. Sometimes we must fight but we also must guard our hearts from superficial views of patriotism and make sure our highest allegiance is to God’s kingdom. Matthew 6:33

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posted May 2, 2011 at 10:32 am

I think the reason behind the burial at sea was a good one! Do we really need a place for the terrorist to celebrate him. No way! Have a little trust in our government because if they were faking his death, they would’ve done it a long time ago. This was a huge victory for the US so I don’t mind all the crowds chanting “U.S.A.!” with flags waving in the air. However, I am terrified of what could happen now… All we can do is PRAY, PRAY, PRAY!

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Chris Braach

posted May 2, 2011 at 10:34 am

Very well said. Several months ago I read in the Frontiers Mission magazine several articles that were challenging the meaning in the scripture where Jesus sayes to love your enemy and pray for those who persecute (he even spoke of turning the other cheek rather than seeking justice… to me a harder concept than praying for my enemy). I’ve reflected on that enough that today I want to mourn Osama’s death rather than celebrate. I’ve prayed for him to stumble on a person that could speak peace and love and forgiveness to him and now that won’t happen. That challenge doesn’t die with Osama though, there are still peoople out there that should be considered an enemy; even some that don’t live that far away from me but are enemies for a different reason. The challenge is the same.

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posted May 2, 2011 at 10:34 am

Thank you for stating what I have been feeling since the news last night!!

Today, looking at all the people celebrating, I was a little sickened because it brought to mind all the demonstrations we’ve seen from Laden’s followers, them cheering when the towers fell, them cheering when they killed a hostage. Reveling in death. I don’t ever want to revel in anyone’s death. Isn’t that what is supposed to make us different from them?

To me, this is a time of quiet reflection. Of sadness at the evil in the world, of hope that some of it has been eliminated, of remeberance of those who have given their lives tryin to fight this evil, and of those who died in the 9/11 attacks.

Thank you again for saying what I was afraid to say.

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posted May 2, 2011 at 10:41 am

Props for your willingness to question many people’s unfettered joy at someone’s death. I just can’t get Jesus’s words out of my head to ‘love my enemies’ even while I am pleased that a human sense of justice has been done. I guess I’m a walking paradox. Nevertheless, the joy people have over this news is a bit disturbing and leaves an awful taste in my mouth.

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Ken Grant

posted May 2, 2011 at 10:45 am

Well said.

I live in between New York City and Washington, DC – I know people whose lives were forever changed on 9/11 from both areas. Most are expressing the same conflicted feelings, an understanding that their loved ones are not returning, a feeling of restrained relief – nothing that really comes close to celebration.

It is my hope that we continue opposing those who would kill and destroy innocent people while guarding our hearts to not become monsters in the process – not an easy task.

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Charlie Chang

posted May 2, 2011 at 10:56 am

My first instinct was “YES, WE DID IT! AMERICAN PRIDE!”

But then I started thinking about Jesus saying he was life. And how we’re glad that another human being that God created died.

And I don’t think Christians take seriously commandment #6.

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Talmadge Hobbs

posted May 2, 2011 at 11:00 am

My first feelings were profound sadness. He was God’s creation just as much as I am. There’s no cheering from me, because, as was previously stated, there is no longer an opportunity for him to receive the gift of mercy and grace. We have asked for years, WWJD! Are we to follow Paul’s admonition in Phil. 2?

Pray for those who haven’t seen Christ as their sole hope. And pray that we will be conformed to the image of Christ.

Please note that I haven’t yet posted to my blog. If you’re interested, give me 6 hours to collect what’s been going on in my brain since last night. Thanks.]

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Kent F

posted May 2, 2011 at 11:00 am

My relief and any positive feelings is for the affected families so they can actually have some closure.

The politicizing of it has already started – even on some comments here? – sad and sickening.

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posted May 2, 2011 at 11:04 am

This is what I posted this morning…

Americans, let’s be careful not to cheer and celebrate like Bin Laden’s people did after their “victory.” We can be nobler and more somber and reflective than that, can’t we? How about being quiet for a change, and mourn all hate and death and revenge and brokenness?

When we watched the news this morning, it was very hard for Tessa to understand this “killing,” and we were pretty quiet and careful about it. She was born five days after 9-11. I don’t feel “good” about anything related to that incident — including today’s news.

Just sad, in fact. Sad that even in the 21st century we humans still have this kind of hate and war, and then we loudly and crassly celebrate revenge and death.

This won’t change a thing. In fact, it may embolden our “enemy” even more.

We have a dear friend in Pakistan. A wonderful, warm Muslim man, who became part of our family when a student at NWC, shortly after 9-11, when Tessa was very small. I am thinking of him and his family today, and hoping that he still loves us and knows we care about people in the middle east.

Can we bring our soldiers home now?

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posted May 2, 2011 at 12:18 pm

“To me, this is a time of quiet reflection. Of sadness at the evil in the world, of hope that some of it has been eliminated, of remeberance of those who have given their lives tryin to fight this evil, and of those who died in the 9/11 attacks.” -Kenja

Jason, Thanks for expressing the ambiguity in this moment of celebration. I was beginning to think I was the only one. (But on a partisan note — and I hope you’ll forgive me my standing up on a soapbox — I think is what George Bush should have done nine years ago.)

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Charlie's Church of Christ

posted May 2, 2011 at 12:25 pm

I just keeping thinking how unfulfilling this will be. The way this is being celebrated this is revenge – and revenge never works. It never accomplishes what we think it will.

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Debra Puglisi Sharp

posted May 2, 2011 at 12:46 pm

Thank you, Jason, for posting this blog. I have so many mixed feelings. Yes…I am happy that an evil man has been stopped. However, we should not celebrate any man being shot in the head…as my husband was 13 years ago by a crack cocaine addict who then abducted me and raped me in his home until I escaped 101 hours later. I have accepted that a jury decided to spare his life. God will be his Judge. Osama now faces his God. Justice? We need to ask those who lost loved ones on 9/11. Many have come forward to say that he or she is happy that Osama Bid Laden is dead. However, I do believe that most are grieving….all over again….as the events are re-lived. I commend the CIA and Military for stopping Osama and pray that we continue to support them as retaliation is sure to occur. We must take this day to reflect on those who have died and pray that…some day…PEACE and LOVE prevails in our country. God Bless America.

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Mike Mann

posted May 2, 2011 at 3:11 pm

Much of the Bin Laden video and audio that we have been shown since 2001 has been proven to be either rehashed old footage or outright fakes to help sell him as the demon-inspired bogeyman of everything godly or good and get America behind launching the endless, immoral and illegal “War on Terror.” Alan Sabrosky, a Jewish American ex-Marine said, “Only two intelligence agencies had the expertise, assets, access and political protection to execute 9/11 in the air and on the ground: our CIA and Israel’s Mossad.” As Paul Craig Roberts once wrote, “The “war on terror” is a hoax that fronts for American control of oil pipelines, the profits of the military-security complex, the assault on civil liberty by fomenters of a police state, and Israel’s territorial expansion.”

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posted May 2, 2011 at 3:33 pm

I read this article and all the comments. While I agree, there is something disturbing about how I initially felt (and how a lot of the general, American public feels) when we found out Bin Laden was killed. I have since changed my jubilation and awe to just utter support for the military and the decision made by our President to undergo this mission. I can’t begin to comprehend how much pressure and thought was put behind these decisionmakers.

Having said that, I wonder what most of the people that commented on this blog entry think was the right decision. It is ok to feel remorse for being happy at first but some of you act like this was the worst thing that could have happened. Yes, a human life was taken and I’m not a fan of that but I am not sure this man was human. He was the operator and top recruiter of the #1 terrorist network in the whole world. He killed countless innocent men, women and CHILDREN. I don’t think his death will be the end of the violence but it certainly isn’t the beginning either.

And for those of you who said your children were bothered by this news…why are letting them be exposed to this news? Call me old-fashioned but I think we disclose entirely too much to our kids. Unless they are 13 years or older, I’m not sure there will be much talk about Bin Laden’s death at school. Is is so bad to shield gruesome news from our children? Children are much more impressionable than we adults are but yet we subject them to the same news we are disturbed by??? Come on people.

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Jason Boyett

posted May 2, 2011 at 3:47 pm


I don’t think anyone here is acting like “this is the worst thing that could have happened.” What we’re doing is saying we have mixed feelings. That doesn’t mean we don’t think killing OBL was a bad decision. It’s something we’ve been trying to do for almost ten years, and I’m glad we’ve been successful. What I’m trying to do is work through the reasons WHY I feel that way. To do so is not to wish something hadn’t happened, but to examine myself in the wake of it.

As for talking to my kids about it, my daughter is 11. Both kids are aware of what happened on September 11, and both will hear about it at school today — either from teachers or other kids. I have no doubt about this.

I generally do shield inappropriate news from my kids, but I didn’t want them hearing about this second-hand without the context their mom or dad can provide. I wanted to be the one to bring it up. I wanted to answer their immediate questions…not some kid at school. That’s how I parent, and it seems pretty old-fashioned to me.

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posted May 2, 2011 at 4:16 pm

I agree with everything you said, Jason. I should have prefaced my comment to the people who commented on your blog. Thanks for taking the time to respond.

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Susan isaacs

posted May 2, 2011 at 5:12 pm

I lived in New York City on 9/11/01. My then-boyfriend was attending a conference on the top of the World Trade Center at 8am. A miracle caused him to be late; but he was in the lobby when the first plane hit. He survived, all his coworkers made it to the conference on time. They’re dead.

We lived through the chaos and grief up close. We all knew people who lost someone. And nothing was harder than passing by a Fire Department station. If anyone deserves to be cheering, it’s the FDNY.

Celebration over the end of an evil is human: the world cheered when Hitler died. But it didn’t bring back six million Jews. War is hell, violence is hell, hatred is hell. Drunk college kids blowing their vuvuzelas is repulsive.

To anyone who suggests this is some well-crafted ruse to get Obama re-elected: Islam (and Judaism) require a body to be buried within 24 hours. And the Islamic terrorists don’t need a shrine. That’s why he was buried at sea within 24 hours. There will be graphic images of the dead man soon enough if you have to see them. But please give credit where credit is due. The CIA, military AND THE PRESIDENT have been working tirelessly to get this done. They deserve our thanks and respect, regardless of how we feel about Obama or the military complex.

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posted May 2, 2011 at 5:16 pm

Thanks for sharing!
I’ve been processing similar thoughts since I first heard the news last night.
As a Soldier, you’d think I’d be all pumped up, but honestly I’ve just been quiet and introspective today. Reading your post was as though someone had combed my mind of mental clutter and put it all in a cohesive order so I could take a step back and make a little more sense of it.
Nice to see I’m not alone (and not “unpatriotic”).
Love you bro!

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posted May 2, 2011 at 5:53 pm

Good column Jason. And I see you have just a few of the tin hat crowd among your readers. Oh well.

ObL was our enemy, the enemy of freedom everywhere, among Muslims as well as Christians, Jews, atheists, etc. Throughout human history people and tribes have had enemies and have celebrated when they died, especially in situations analogous to this one. I think it’s very natural and we are a very long way from being so removed from our pre-human and human history that we would not celebrate in this situation.

But it’s good to point out there are better reactions and, like killing Hitler didn’t bring back any of the Gypsies and homosexuals and Jews and others he killed, this death won’t bring back any of those who died because of it or the trillions of dollars that were spent because of it. In fact if your child’s teacher is fired this summer you can blame ObL and what he did and our very faulty reaction to what he did. Which continues.

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Jesse Phillips

posted May 2, 2011 at 6:54 pm


Thank you so much! I really needed to know that I wasn’t the only one feeling so out of sorts about this situation. The responses that came across my Facebook page (God bless social networking) ranged from a young woman who’s husband has served two times in Iraq who was so happy that Osama Bin Laden was dead, to a twenty-three year old who barely remembers 9/11 saying that she thinks it’s ridiculous that we’re even noticing that he’s dead, to another sweet Christian friend saying that no one has a right to be happy at all that someone died.

I never – NEVER – get up in arms about whatever’s going on in the political world and I rarely watch the news, but today I feel close to tears. I am angry at the twenty somethings that have no clue what it felt like as an adult to see our country attacked and watched helplessly as we plunged into war. I’m mad at them for their lackadaisical attitude. I’m saddened by the overwhelming jubilation like our favorite sports team just won the Superbowl; and I feel the hope and fear from all of our soldiers who are excited and even more scared, wondering what this means. And even though I would never be happy that a life had to be lost, I am relieved….relieved to know that this man is no longer in a position of power, and that our guys over there risking everything they love for us, had this victory.

I know…I know it’s probably not going to make that big of a difference in the world at large. And I know I shouldn’t feel so frickin’ emotional about it, but I am and I do. And I’m so glad I’m not alone.

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posted May 2, 2011 at 8:01 pm

Jessie the feminists who made life a lot better for today’s working women probably get pretty mad about young women of today who don’t understand what they have to lose, and how easily it could happen, too.

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posted May 2, 2011 at 10:48 pm

Alise, the answer is that Christians advocate for the victim.

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ChadJ (randomlychad)

posted May 2, 2011 at 11:19 pm

According to my understanding of Romans 13, government does not bear the sword for naught. Thus it is entirely fitting and proper that our government went after OBL. That said, the rights and responsibilities of government are entirely different from those of the individual. “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and unto God what is God’s.” As an American myself I can be glad that a dangerous enemy of our country is now gone, but as a Christian it is sad to see yet another soul stand before the heavenly bar without an Advocate (this is based upon the man’s life works). Jesus well-said “live by the sword, die by the sword.”

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posted May 3, 2011 at 12:49 am

“Love is never satisfied in the destruction of a sinner, but with saving of a sinner. Love never finds its rest with holiness and righteousness vindicated by the annihilation of the things that oppose. Love will find its rest only when those who have been swept from righteousness and holiness are restored thereto and are remade in the image of the Father, God.” -G. Campbell Morgan

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Pat Petro

posted May 3, 2011 at 7:46 am

Thanks for this forum. I did not feel a need to go out in the streets and cheer. Like you, I was conflicted. Justice served where Bin Laden was concerned, yes! Especially if he did shoot back and use his wife as a shield as some report. But there were innocents killed, in this attack and the attack in Libyia killed children. We can not be a people that rejoices in the killing of women and children and say we are pro-life. The Bible says “Vengence is mine sayeth the Lord”. and then the conflict: Are we not saving the lives of innocent men, women and children by taking away the threat of men like Bin Laden and Gaddifi (sp)? Is the Lord using NATO to protect the lives of others as he used the US and NATO to protect the world from Hitler?

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posted May 4, 2011 at 6:29 pm

This may be the most efficient and well stated blog regarding this event I’ve read.
While my blog post “Death of a Terrorist” has gotten a lot of hits I don’t think it communicated as effectively what you said here.

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Matt Wood

posted May 5, 2011 at 12:46 am

God doesn’t take joy in the wicked dying and neither should we. This is an opportunity for us Christians to stand above the majority, and be the radical Jesus freaks God calls us to be. Osama dying does not negate the fact that sin still exists and that death still exists. In all actuality we all deserve death for the wages of sin is death; doesn’t matter how “good” or “evil” we are. We all have fallen short of the glory of God. I pray for restoration and healing for those who lost love ones in 9/11, and I pray for our enemies and those who want to persecute us (or blow us into smitherines). God rains on both the righteousnes and the wicked, so who are we to show impartiality? Yay, “justice” has been served, but don’t let us look past the fact Osma’s right hand man is still alive, and there are plenty other terrorists that hate us that will be more than willing to take his place. God wants all His children to be saved, and Osama punched his ticket to hell by refusing to obey the one true God. God is grieved one more sinner left this earth before starting a relationship with Him, but He is more grieved at the fact that in Osma’s rebellion, he killed numerous people; I don’t say “innocent people” because nobody is innocent in the court of God. Stand above the rest. Stand for Christ. That’s all I have to say.

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