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Thursday, May 5, 2011

Osama, Terrorism, Despair, and Hope

By Justin Edwards

The world has been in a whirlwind since the news of the death of Osama bin Laden broke late Sunday evening.  Reactions have varied from celebration to condemnation, with many Christians struggling with how they should respond to the death of the world's most notorious killer of the last 2 decades.  In his article, A Christian Response to the death of Osama bin Laden, Randy White revisits the evil acts of bin Laden in recent years:

Osama bin Laden is a clear enemy.  As the leader of Al Qaeda, he is responsible for the death of over 3,000 men, women, and children on 9/11, as well as those who died on the USS Cole, the deaths of US servicemen shot down in Somalia in Operation Restore Hope, the 301 persons killed and 5,000 injured in bombings of U.S. Embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, the bombing of a synagogue in Tunisia, the deaths of 180 people in a nightclub in Bali, and the list goes on.  Clearly, Osama bin Laden has been the deadliest terrorist of this young century (HT: Worldview Weekend).

Osama bin Laden was a cold-blooded murderer who deserved death.  Christians can rejoice that this wicked man has received temporal justice for his crimes against humanity, and we can rejoice that he can no longer take another innocent human life.  Yet, while we can rejoice that bin Laden is history and can harm us no more, the reality is he is in hell and has yet to face God's final justice - in that, we cannot rejoice, but more on that later.

Although bin Laden is dead, the threat of terrorism did not die with him.  In fact, his death will likely be a catalyst for near-future attacks.  Coincidentally, about a week before May 2, I saw that Wikileaks had released information regarding repercussions of a bin Laden capture or assassination.  In this report, Al-Qaeda threatens to unleash a nuclear hellstorm if Osama is caught or assassinated.  The terrorist organization has supposedly hidden a nuclear bomb in Europe, ready for detonation should Osama be incarcerated or killed.  It is not unlikely that such a threat is imposed within the United States, given our security risks on the border among other things.

In my opinion, killing OBL is another win for Islam.  The U.S. was absolutely justified in this assassination, but the consequences will be more attacks and restricted freedoms.  Not only might Al-Qaeda accelerate its efforts to attack the United States, but there may be an increase in lone wolf terrorists or bin Laden sympathizers to unleash their frustrations against perceived tyranny of the United States.  In fact, Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula publishes a high quality English-language magazine, Inspire, to recruit and instruct Muslims in the West to carry out terrorist attacks in their home countries. They released their 5th edition in April:

With this is mind, the threat of so-called "soft targets" being attacked has significantly increased since the killing of Osama bin Laden.  Security has been heightened in major cities around the country, and agencies are being encouraged to employ security measures that would invade the privacy of American citizens.  The following CBS report explains that routine patdowns may become the norm for entry into these soft targets:

As the next few weeks unfold, we will likely see an increase of Muslims memorializing bin Laden.  In fact, the location of his killing is already becoming a shrine for his admirers, where one Muslims states:

I've come here today to see a piece of our history...Osama was a good Muslim who fought for Islam. He was a hero to us. I expect in time to see all sorts of tourists here, even Japanese and Americans.

This shrine may serve as a rallying point and pilgrimage for bin Laden's followers to pay their respects.  What we are seeing is faithful Muslims supporting one of their heroes - a martyr in their eyes.

Such is the sentiment that may bring about a new wave of terror in the United States. The world is already in turmoil with a failing economy, natural disasters, and Middle East turmoil, and with the perhaps imminent threat of terrorist attacks in the United States and Europe, we can expect more death and restricted freedoms.

So what does this mean for you?  What kind of emotions do you feel knowing that the world has significantly become more volatile, as if it wasn't volatile enough already?  Are you afraid?  Are you fearful of the unexpected?  If all you have is this life now, then there really is no hope for you.  If this world, which ultimately offers you nothing but temporal happiness, despair and death - an evil place where wickedness reigns and immorality destroys, if this world is the only one you have to cling to - then you are utterly hopeless.  At any moment, your life could be taken from you, and the chances of that happening have now increased by the death of one evil man.  

If death knocked on your door today, would you find yourself in the same place as Osama bin Laden?  The truth is, if you are still living for yourself and for this world, if you have need of nothing and are trying to live in a manner that you believe would make you worthy of heaven, then you are just as guilty as bin Laden and will face the same judgment as he will face. While the wrath of God may come down more severely upon bin Laden, God's wrath is still unfathomable upon those who refuse to obey the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.  You may think such a position is incredulous, and I don't blame you, but that doesn't change the reality that you are a law-breaker and deserve the wages of your sin.

To read more about this and how you can avoid facing the same judgment as Osama bin Laden, please see Eternal Life.

Now, for my brothers and sisters in Christ - we have an incredible opportunity to use the killing of Osama bin Laden to proclaim the Gospel.  First of all, as opposed to those without Christ, we have an enduring hope!  As we are secured by grace, it doesn't matter if we should be the victims of a terrorist attack.  We are not to fear the unexpected on this earth, for our hope is in the One who has conquered death and has established a kingdom for us to rule and reign with Christ for eternity!  This is the Hope that is within us, and we must be constantly ready to share this with others.

Secondly, I expect most people are willing to talk about the death of Osama bin Laden.  I can think of no easier way to transition into a spiritual conversation than using this instance to break the ice.  In the days to come, I may put a list of survey questions together to use in witnessing encounters, but for now, consider asking people this simple question: 

Where do you think Osama bin Laden is now?

This will be a springboard for you to eventually ask the person where they will go when they die. 

Most of us have lost people close to us.  The news of Osama bin Laden just might be a catalyst that sparks a new wave of terrorism, which could ultimately play into God's prophetic timetable.  In any case, the hour is now all the more urgent to proclaim the Gospel.  While we really don't know how any of this will play out, God, on the other hand, is in absolute control.  He is sovereign over all nations, people, angels, and devils, and these events are proceeding just as He has ordained them to proceed.  We do not know every detail of the future, but we do know that Christ is returning, and looking at the condition of the world today, I believe He is at the doorstep. 

If you have doubts as to where you will spend eternity, please do visit the Eternal Life page.  If you are unsure of your salvation, please don't hesitate to contact me.  If you know you are saved by the grace of God, what are you going to do with your life from here on out?  We have only one purpose in this life once we are bought by the blood of Christ - to love and obey Him with all of our hearts and to make His name known. 

Let your conduct be worthy of the Gospel of Christ... - Philippians 1:27

See also:

The Great White Throne Judgment

20 Reasons NOT to Hope for Christ's Return in 2011

Are You Ready?

Awake from Your Slumber

Don't Play Games with Your Eternity

Heart Inventory

People Who Will Not Go to Heaven

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