Daily Archives: May 6, 2011

What Would Jesus Say To Osama Bin Laden?

by Michael J. Klassen

One name has dominated the news headlines around the world this week: Osama bin Laden. Sunday night, U.S. president Barak Obama announced to his fellow Americans and to the world that the infamous leader of the Al Qaeda terrorist network had been shot and killed in a surprise maneuver by a bevy of U.S. Navy Seals.

Within moments, Times Square in New York City was packed with people celebrating the death of the world’s most reviled and admired man. Reviled because he was ultimately responsible for the deaths of countless thousands of people in the U.S. and around the world. Admired because he embodied Muslim fundamentalist hatred toward the west.

The next morning, newspaper headlines trumpeted the master terrorist’s death. The New York Daily News probably offered the most intense headline: “Rot In Hell.”

Amidst the differing opinions about this man’s death, I began wondering What would Jesus say to Osama bin Laden?

After some reflection, here’s what I imagine Jesus would say:


My beloved, my heart breaks from witnessing the end of your life. How I wish you would have made life-giving—instead of death-giving—choices. Had you taken to heart what your holy book, the Qur’an, says about me, you would have known that I, too, am a humble servant of God. You would have known that I am the healing prophet—and I could have healed your angry, embittered heart.

Centuries ago, another man hated my people. His name was Paul. He killed many of my followers for similar reasons that you have killed. But I stopped him and showed him that the power of love always triumphs over the power of hate. Hate always, always ends in destruction. As I spoke through my brother James, “Mercy triumphs over judgment.”

That’s why violence never solves anything. Every seed you sow brings a harvest of the same seed. If you sow seeds of mercy, you will reap a harvest of mercy. If you sow seeds of violence, you will always reap a harvest of violence. Did you think your destruction on September 11, 2001 would resolve anything? Efforts to defend the Muslim faith through jihad will never work. You cannot change the world through violence. When you hate your enemy, you become your enemy. Your enemies in America would do well to learn this lesson, too.

If, indeed, you believed that your god is great, why did you take matters into your own hands? You should have trusted him to mete out justice. He never needed your help.

You must also understand this: Not all Americans and people in western society follow me. Many people are more committed to their political cause than they are to me. They may appear to be my followers, but their allegiances lie with civic religion instead. They think that their patriotism is equivalent to Christianity, which it isn’t. A good American isn’t necessarily a good Christian. But of course, you know this now, because you are guilty of the same offense. You were more committed to your political cause than you were to your faith.

Unfortunately, your actions gave many Americans a distorted view of Islam. In the same way, the behavior of some Christians give the rest of the world a distorted view of Christianity. Anyone who burns the Qur’an or mocks Muhammad in my name does not know me.

But despite your violent ways, I want you to know that I love you as much as the people whose blood is on your hands. Your regrettable behavior did nothing to make me love you any less. So while people are celebrating your death, I’m grieving instead.


Michael serves as co-pastor of The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, Colorado.


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