Osama Bin Laden’s Death and the Kingdom of God

I recognize that I’m a little late on blogging about Osama Bin Laden’s death, but with the pace of life lately I’m happy to have been able to write anything at all. So at the risk of repeating what has already been said about an event from last week (about 3 years in internet time), I would like to think through what our posture should be about this important event.

Most of my thoughts have developed on it as a result of healthy discussion about it with Krista, Brian, Heath, Jaz, and Stephen Rose. Of the responses I’ve seen on the blogesphere, I especially appreciated Tim’s thoughts at Black Coffee Reflections in this post.

I’ve seen and heard some responses to Osama Bin Laden’s death that I would describe as cavalier (thanks BA, for the perfect descriptor). The celebrations in the streets, the waving of flags, the pronouncements about justice, and the “we-got-’em” lingo just doesn’t quite sit right with me. I don’t mean to say that we should not have raided his compound and eliminated a man who is an ongoing threat to the world, but I want to consider what our response should be.

I understand the emotion behind the celebrations that broke out. Our country was attacked in a way that broke all the rules of engagement. Sons lost fathers, mothers lost sons, and time stood still for a couple of hours on that day in September 2001. We were angry, and for many, the hurt and anger has never found any relief.

So when the news of Bin Laden’s death hit the wire, there was a flood of emotion, probably most intense from those in New York who were directly effected by the 9/11 attacks.

I have to process this, not just as an American whose country was attacked ten years ago, but first as a follower of Christ who wants to see God’s Kingdom come on this earth, just as we were taught to pray.

It’s important to distinguish who we are because it can help us clarify what we want. Do we want all the talk of God’s Kingdom coming to be a nice thing to hear about in church? Or a reality that we invest our lives into? If our core identify is our citizenship of the United States, then the concept of “seeking first the Kingdom of God” only serves to help us feel good about “higher ideals.”

Jesus’ taught that the Kingdom of God has not fully come, but it is coming. But this isn’t merely an event somewhere far into the future; it is something that is emerging now. When I’m interacting with culture, I have to recognize that I am in cooperation with God within a world that is living within the tension of two worlds: one that is fading, and another that is gradually coming.

As I live in that tension, I want to be pulled toward the Kingdom that God is bringing to pass on this earth. The reason some of the cavalier language disturbs me is that, in the tension, it pulls me more toward the kingdom of this world than it does the Kingdom of our God. That’s just me.

Perhaps it did not have the same effect on you, but in light of the fact that the Kingdom of God isn’t coming by use of a sword, I do not allow myself to become fully comfortable with the use of violence to bring about harmony. I simply accept it as a sad reality of living in the tension of a world that is and a world that is to come.

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**If you are receiving this via email, it worked this time. I’ve had some trouble with my email service, but with no time to look into it, delivery may be unreliable for now.

4 responses to “Osama Bin Laden’s Death and the Kingdom of God

  1. Ah, and so he gently strums the chord of tension, and what a joyous but awkward tone it makes. Yes, “the tension of two worlds: one that is fading, and another that is gradually coming” is disturbing, it is true. But what then?

    What if it were also motivating? and dare we hope liberating as well? What should that sounded chord of tension motivate us to do? First things first, and you hit it on the head, seeking His Kingdom (the one that is already on its way, the one we strive to engage daily), and His Righteousness (loosely, Him making everything right with the wrong world in which we live).

    I appreciate the candor and perspective here, and in direct opposition to my intuition, I offer that perhaps we were made to live in this tension. Or if not designed that way from the start, at least equipped by the One Who made us to live, even be fruitful, in it. Back to the point at hand, we rejoice that our names are writ in the Lamb’s book of life, not that demons are subjugated to us in His name. What then?

    Perhaps our response to this mess is one of relief – at the harm that will not be done to others – but more importantly, a response now of Divine discontent that motivates us to further expand His Kingdom and be about our Father’s business in the nations. What say you?

  2. Thanks for the thoughtfulness of your response, BA.

    Yes, “the tension of two worlds: one that is fading, and another that is gradually coming” is disturbing, it is true. But what then?

    What if it were also motivating? and dare we hope liberating as well?

    I offer that perhaps we were made to live in this tension. Or if not designed that way from the start, at least equipped by the One Who made us to live, even be fruitful, in it.

    ____________________

    Sounds like I should clarify that I did not mean to express any lament about the tension we live in. I completely agree with your comments about that tension. God has certainly equipped us for it (I would like to write more about that!) . The part that I described at the end as a “sad reality” is not the two-worlds existence but the fact that violence is a reality in this “land between times”.

    If I’m understanding the New Testament correctly, Jesus isn’t going to usher in his Kingdom with swords of steel (or bullets for that matter). So when we are put in a situation where we feel forced into the use of violence to protect our families, then I don’t think it is something worth celebrating. We respond soberly, because “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world.”

    I do not allow myself to become fully comfortable with the use of violence to bring about harmony. I simply accept it as a sad reality of living in the tension of a world that is and a world that is to come.

  3. I appreciate your clarification, although you don’t need one. And, while we may think differently on how Messiah will usher in his physical Kingdom-come, we definitely agree that you need to write more on how God has equipped us to live in the in-between!

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