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What to Think & How to Feel About the Death of Osama Bin Laden Pa ge |1

What Should the Jesus-Follower Think…And How


Should They Feel About the Death of Osama Bin Laden?
A talk given by Rob Wilkerson at Church in the Boro, Sunday Morning, May 5, 2011
After the recent announcement by President Obama regarding the raid and killing of Osama Bin Laden.

This talk will arouse deep-seated emotions in all of us today.

 Some will feel threatened by what they'll hear, and they'll want to react in anger. The
counsel from the Word is let every person be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to
get angry. Think about what I'm saying and consider everything Jesus says before you
make a conclusion and lash out in anger.

 Your emotional reaction to what you'll hear this morning is a good gauge of your security
in Jesus. If you are secure in Jesus and His love for you, then your emotional reaction
will be near zero. If you are insecure in your relationship with Jesus, then your
emotional reaction will rise and may reach a ten!

 The reaction many of you will feel inside is connected to something real, and it's called
sin. We are all fallen and broken and marred images of God in need of a Savior and in
need of heaven to come and completely change us. But until then, there will be things
deep inside of us that are broken and will shoot splinters out at others when that broken
part is triggered. That is not a time to get made. It is a time rather to sit and ask, "why
does this tick me off so much? what is it about what I believe that makes me so angry at
this?" Chances are, the truth I'm sharing with you is poking and scraping at that belief
that is broken.

 The goal here this morning is to apply the gospel to how Christians feel about the death
of Osama bin Laden...and to apply it to what we think. What we feel and what we think
are probably broken. The gospel redeems and renews and transforms what we think
and how we feel. And it'll be surprising to note that even today, with all the teaching we
have from the Scriptures, there are still things Jesus says that upsets even some of the
oldest and wisest and smartest followers of Jesus.

 I urge you to listen carefully, squelch your emotions, hear the voice of Jesus in His own
words, and don't try to deal with all the "Yeah...Buts!" and "Well what about...!!!"
responses. You don't have to have all those future or hypothetical issues (most of which
aren't even real to you and I) dealt with and answered in order to simply accept what
Jesus says. Too often we feel like we can't accept what Jesus says unless we've got all
the particulars already worked out and nailed down. If that's how you think, then you
need to rethink following Jesus...because He's the King and He demands our
obedience...whether we "get it" or not.

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 If you have the kind of personality which likes everything put in nice, neat, cubby-holed,
categories then you will struggle with what you'll hear this morning. And in fact, you'll
struggle with much of what you read in the Bible. That's because the Bible is not a book
that addresses our personality issues. It is a book which tells the story of God's plan to
redeem His creation which has been marred by sin. Therefore, you will come up against
tensions, paradoxes, and struggles in the Bible where it says one thing very clearly, and
then says something else that very clearly seems to say the opposite. If you are not okay
with two things standing side by side with each other that seem to contradict each other,
then the Bible is going to bug you to death. The counsel there would be to just let it say
what it says, and not be tempted to twist and reinterpret various passages to make them
say what you want them to say, so that they will fit together nicely with your system.
 Finally, regardless of what you know about the Old and New Testaments, let's make one
thing especially clear: Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of every part of the Old Testament.
He is the fulfillment of history. He is the Creator and King of the Universe, and whether
now or later, every knee will bow to Him as Lord of all, and every tongue will confess
that He IS Lord of all. Those who make that decision today will not struggle nearly as
much as those who wait to do so after their death. It is better to hear Him, embrace
Him, and obey Him today...rather than tomorrow or later.

1. OBL was made in the image of God…just like every one of us.

“I have read at least a couple of Christian pastors who are chiding fellow Christians for
celebrating the death of a fellow human being. But was bin Laden really a ‘fellow human
being’? I believe that his actions over the years which lead to the deaths of thousands may
have put him in an entirely different category.”

(Dr. D, http://answersforthefaith.com/2011/05/02/christian-responses-to-osama-bin-ladens-death/)

 In the Garden of Eden, before the fall of mankind: Genesis 1:27 – “So God created
human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female
he created them.” OBL was made in the image of God.

 After expulsion from the Garden of Eden, after the fall of mankind…and the flood:
Genesis 9:6 – “If anyone takes a human life, that person's life will also be taken by
human hands. For God made human beings* in his own image.” The presence of sin
merely marred the image of God in man, but it did not completely remove it. However,
OBL did deserve to die for the murders he supposedly committed on 9/11 and
everywhere else.

 Any words of hate to any human being is murdering in the image of God.
o James 3:7-10 – “People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, but no
one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison. Sometimes it

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praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in
the image of God. And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth.
Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right!”
o Matthew 5:21-22 – “"You have heard that our ancestors were told, 'You must not
murder. If you commit murder, you are subject to judgment.' But I say, if you are
even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot,
you are in danger of being brought before the court. And if you curse someone, you
are in danger of the fires of hell.”
o Slandering or hating Osama bin Laden is not the way of a Jesus-follower, because in
so doing we are destroying the image of God in him, just as he has done to many
others. In essence, we become like OBL when we do with our mouths and hearts
what he did with his hands and feet.

2. OBL deserved God’s wrath and justice…just like every one of us.

 Romans 1 – “18 But God shows his anger from heaven against all sinful, wicked people
who suppress the truth by their wickedness… Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn't
worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of
what God was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused. 22 Claiming to
be wise, they instead became utter fools. 23 And instead of worshiping the glorious,
ever-living God, they worshiped idols made to look like mere people and birds and
animals and reptiles. 24 So God abandoned them to do whatever shameful things their
hearts desired… Since they thought it foolish to acknowledge God, he abandoned them
to their foolish thinking and let them do things that should never be done. 29 Their lives
became full of every kind of wickedness, sin, greed, hate, envy, murder, quarreling,
deception, malicious behavior, and gossip. 30 They are backstabbers, haters of God,
insolent, proud, and boastful. They invent new ways of sinning, and they disobey their
parents. 31 They refuse to understand, break their promises, are heartless, and have no
mercy. 32 They know God's justice requires that those who do these things deserve to
die, yet they do them anyway. Worse yet, they encourage others to do them, too.”

 Romans 2 – “1 You may think you can condemn such people, but you are just as bad,
and you have no excuse! When you say they are wicked and should be punished, you are
condemning yourself, for you who judge others do these very same things. 2 And we
know that God, in his justice, will punish anyone who does such things. 3 Since you
judge others for doing these things, why do you think you can avoid God's judgment
when you do the same things?... 5 But because you are stubborn and refuse to turn
from your sin, you are storing up terrible punishment for yourself. For a day of anger is
coming, when God's righteous judgment will be revealed. 6 He will judge everyone
according to what they have done. 7 He will give eternal life to those who keep on doing
good, seeking after the glory and honor and immortality that God offers. 8 But he will
pour out his anger and wrath on those who live for themselves, who refuse to obey the
truth and instead live lives of wickedness. 9 There will be trouble and calamity for

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everyone who keeps on doing what is evil—for the Jew first and also for the Gentile…
11 For God does not show favoritism. 12 When the Gentiles sin, they will be destroyed,
even though they never had God's written law. And the Jews, who do have God's law,
will be judged by that law when they fail to obey it…You who call yourselves Jews are
relying on God's law, and you boast about your special relationship with him. 18 You
know what he wants; you know what is right because you have been taught his law.
19 You are convinced that you are a guide for the blind and a light for people who are
lost in darkness. 20 You think you can instruct the ignorant and teach children the ways
of God. For you are certain that God's law gives you complete knowledge and truth.
21 Well then, if you teach others, why don't you teach yourself? You tell others not to
steal, but do you steal? 22 You say it is wrong to commit adultery, but do you commit
adultery? You condemn idolatry, but do you use items stolen from pagan temples?
23 You are so proud of knowing the law, but you dishonor God by breaking it. 24 No
wonder the Scriptures say, "The Gentiles blaspheme the name of God because of you."

 Romans 3 – “9 Well then, should we conclude that we Jews are better than others? No,
not at all, for we have already shown that all people, whether Jews or Gentiles,* are
under the power of sin. 10 As the Scriptures say, "No one is righteous—not even one.
11 No one is truly wise; no one is seeking God. 12 All have turned away; all have
become useless. No one does good, not a single one." 13 "Their talk is foul, like the
stench from an open grave. Their tongues are filled with lies." "Snake venom drips from
their lips." 14 "Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness." 15 "They rush to
commit murder. 16 Destruction and misery always follow them. 17 They don't know
where to find peace." 18 "They have no fear of God at all." 19 Obviously, the law
applies to those to whom it was given, for its purpose is to keep people from having
excuses, and to show that the entire world is guilty before God.

3. OBL stood in a place to receive God’s mercy in the cross…just like every one of us.

 John 6 – “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again.
Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty…37 those the Father has given me will
come to me, and I will never reject them..40 For it is my Father's will that all who see his
Son and believe in him should have eternal life. I will raise them up at the last day."

 John 3 – “16 "For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so
that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. 17 God sent his
Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him. 18 "There
is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in
him has already been judged for not believing in God's one and only Son. 19 And the
judgment is based on this fact: God's light came into the world, but people loved the
darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil. 20 All who do evil hate the
light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed. 21 But those who do
what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants."

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 Romans 3 – “21 But now God has shown us a way to be made right with him without
keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses and the
prophets long ago. 22 We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ.
And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. 23 For everyone has
sinned; we all fall short of God's glorious standard. 24 Yet God, with undeserved
kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed
us from the penalty for our sins. 25 For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin.
People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding
his blood.”

 2 Corinthians 5 – “15 He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no
longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for
them…18 And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through
Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. 19 For God was in
Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people's sins against them.
And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. 20 So we are Christ's
ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead,
"Come back to God!" 21 For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for
our sin,* so that we could be made right with God through Christ.”

4. OBL's Death Should Not be Celebrated, but Mourned Because He Did Not
Follow Jesus Christ.

 Proverbs 17 - 5 Those who mock the poor insult their Maker; those who rejoice
at the misfortune of others will be punished.

 Proverbs 24 - 17 Don't rejoice when your enemies fall; don't be happy when
they stumble. 18 For the LORD will be displeased with you and will turn his anger
away from them. 19 Don't fret because of evildoers; don't envy the wicked.
20 For evil people have no future; the light of the wicked will be snuffed out.

 Job 31 - 29 Have I ever rejoiced when disaster struck my enemies, or become


excited when harm came their way? 30 No, I have never sinned by cursing
anyone or by asking for revenge.

5. OBL's Death Gives the Righteous Cause to Celebrate God's Justice.

 Proverbs 11 - 7 When the wicked die, their hopes die with them,
for they rely on their own feeble strength...10 The whole city celebrates when
the godly succeed; they shout for joy when the wicked die.

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 Proverbs 28 - 28 When the wicked take charge, people go into hiding.


When the wicked meet disaster, the godly flourish.

 Psalm 58 - 10 The godly will rejoice when they see injustice avenged. They will
wash their feet in the blood of the wicked. 11 Then at last everyone will say,
"There truly is a reward for those who live for God; surely there is a God who
judges justly here on earth."

 Psalm 68 - 1 Rise up, O God, and scatter your enemies. Let those who hate God
run for their lives. 2 Blow them away like smoke. Melt them like wax in a fire.
Let the wicked perish in the presence of God. 3 But let the godly rejoice.
Let them be glad in God's presence. Let them be filled with joy.

 Exodus 15 - 21 And Miriam sang this song: "Sing to the LORD, for he has
triumphed gloriously; he has hurled both horse and rider into the sea."

Anchor Points for Our Thinking on War and Violence

When discussing and thinking through this issue of the Christian's relationship to war and
violence and vengeance, so many “what about...” questions arise as well as “what if...”
scenarios. The thought is that if these questions and scenarios are not answered, or if they
seem to contradict what you're initially trying to say, then what you're initially trying to say isn't
really true or logical or factual...or even biblical. We do this so often with so much that, in the
end, we never really come to a knowledge of the truth and land on any conclusion. While it is
always good and proper to hold your conclusion with humility, it is not good to not come to a
conclusion simply because you can't get your questions answered and scenarios dealt with.

This is how it usually and easily flows when it comes to difficult subjects like the Christian's
relationship to war and violence. After hearing what Jesus teaches, a conclusion begins forming
which in turn immediately raises these questions and scenarios. In reality these are really
distractions because we do not end up focusing on what Jesus actually said, but instead we
focus on our questions, scenarios and issues. This ends up making US king of our lives and not
Jesus. If Jesus is King of our lives, then we start with His words, His thoughts and teachings, and
we allow the other questions, scenarios and issues to shake out as they come. We begin our
journey of following Him based on a command to do so, and not based on any command to get
it all figured out before you do so.
I've found that having mental anchor points for my thoughts and my heart are key in dealing
with questions, scenarios and issues when they arise. What happens far too often is that these
things bring a sense of panic or confusion or frustration and even go so far sometimes to freeze
our thinking...and therefore our obedience. But when anchor points are placed in our minds,
like a cruiseliner or aircraft carrier safely fastened to the dock, it cannot be washed out to sea so
easily when rough waters come. Fastening your thoughts to things you KNOW are true based

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on what Jesus said is the best way to keep your mind safe when things you do NOT know try to
scare you into a panic about your beliefs.

Here then are some anchor points I've formed over the years that safeguard me from panicking
thoughts and confusing “what if” scenarios...none of which have ever happened to me by the
way. They are 100% truths I find from the words of Jesus Christ and from the biblical writers
who wrote about His words and thoughts and teachings.

1. Jesus' Kingdom is NOT of THIS World.

This first anchor point was taught AND lived by Jesus while He ministered on earth. First, He
demonstrated throughout His ministry that His kingdom was not of this world in the following.

 He never joined up with the existing governments of Judea or Rome, but rather called
them into question and held them accountable to God.
 He never encouraged His followers to take up arms and go to war...of any kind...for His
cause, but rather to entrust themselves to the Father who will take care of it all.
 He sent His followers to preach the good news of release from captivity, freedom from
oppression, and healing from sickness; and He NEVER encouraged the taking of life or
enacting of violence to do any of these things.

Here's what He specifically said about these things.

John 18 - 33 Then Pilate went back into his headquarters and called for
Jesus to be brought to him. "Are you the king of the Jews?" he asked him.
34 Jesus replied, "Is this your own question, or did others tell you about
me?" 35 "Am I a Jew?" Pilate retorted. "Your own people and their
leading priests brought you to me for trial. Why? What have you
done?" 36 Jesus answered, "My Kingdom is not an earthly kingdom. If it
were, my followers would fight to keep me from being handed over to the
Jewish leaders. But my Kingdom is not of this world." 37 Pilate said, "So
you are a king?" Jesus responded, "You say I am a king. Actually, I was
born and came into the world to testify to the truth. All who love the
truth recognize that what I say is true."

One of the most key scenes in Jesus' ministry where He demonstrate this most clearly to His
disciples was when He was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane by Judas Iscariot.

Matthew 26 - 49 So Judas came straight to Jesus. "Greetings, Rabbi!" he


exclaimed and gave him the kiss. 50 Jesus said, "My friend, go ahead and
do what you have come for." Then the others grabbed Jesus and arrested
him.51 But one of the men with Jesus pulled out his sword and struck the
high priest's slave, slashing off his ear. 52 "Put away your sword," Jesus

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told him. "Those who use the sword will die by the sword. 53 Don't you
realize that I could ask my Father for thousands* of angels to protect us,
and he would send them instantly? 54 But if I did, how would the
Scriptures be fulfilled that describe what must happen now?" 55 Then
Jesus said to the crowd, "Am I some dangerous revolutionary, that you
come with swords and clubs to arrest me? Why didn't you arrest me in
the Temple? I was there teaching every day. 56 But this is all happening to
fulfill the words of the prophets as recorded in the Scriptures." At that
point, all the disciples deserted him and fled.

Luke 22 - 49 When the other disciples saw what was about to happen,
they exclaimed, "Lord, should we fight? We brought the swords!"50 And
one of them struck at the high priest's slave, slashing off his right
ear. 51 But Jesus said, "No more of this." And he touched the man's ear
and healed him. 52 Then Jesus spoke to the leading priests, the captains
of the Temple guard, and the elders who had come for him. "Am I some
dangerous revolutionary," he asked, "that you come with swords and
clubs to arrest me?53 Why didn't you arrest me in the Temple? I was
there every day. But this is your moment, the time when the power of
darkness reigns."

It became plainly obvious then from His arrest and His trial by Pilate that His kingdom is not of
this world, and that as such it plainly does NOT involve violence or war of any kind to
accomplish His mission. His mission was to suffer, die, and rise again to forgive sins so that
those whose sins were forgiven would take that good news to the nations throughout the
world. If He did not approve of, affirm, or make use of violence or war during ANY time in His
ministry, either for Himself or for His disciples, then He clearly demonstrates that His kingdom
is, in fact, NOT of this world. That's because HIS kingdom which is of the next world does not
need violence and war to accomplish anything. And THIS means that His kingdom IS for THIS
world, right now, here and now, today.

Jesus taught His people to pray for the coming of His kingdom more fully, from heaven to earth.
He taught His followers how to realize this through the power of the Spirit. He showed them
what it looks like through the healing of the sick, raising of the dead, casting out of demons,
forgiving of sins, making of disciples, etc. THESE things are how the kingdom comes to earth,
and NEVER through war and violence. War and violence only serve to stimulate and propagate
the very suffering and hate Jesus' came to end through His disciples, His church! Therefore, the
follower of Jesus should never have anything to do with these things because they are anti-
kingdom. They are against the very principles upon which kingdom was founded, and they are
against the very results that the kingdom comes to produce.

So this kingdom of God is a kingdom of weakness then, and not of the strength humans are
made of and worship so deeply.

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2. Weakness is strength.

Violence begets violence. Those who live by the sword will die by the sword. A show of
strength only ends in a “pissing contest” where one is always stronger than another. As a result,
this thinking produces a never ending but always reproducing cycle upon cycle of violence and
show of force. That is part of what’s wrong with the world. And setting it right requires
something else…something…opposite of that “strength.” And Jesus-followers know it as
weakness.

Weakness is the voluntary, willful, transparent lifestyle of inviting sinful people into our lives to
win them to Jesus (or help keep them there), knowing full well that they will sin against in some
way, great or small. Intentionally embracing this fact, which Jesus promised beforehand, and
absorbing the sin with the same supernatural power of grace that Jesus used to absorb God’s
wrath, is the only solution, yet one that appears weak to the world. It is counter-intuitive to
human beings. And it is frequently filled with pain and suffering. Yet to respond in kind resolves
nothing long-term, but only serves to widen the gap between us, making it even more difficult,
if not altogether impossible, to reach them and win them to Jesus.

The only solution is to live opposite of worldly strength and force, by embracing this lifestyle of
expectant-suffering, meeting it with unthwarted love and grace and mercy, just like we
ourselves received from God. This lifestyle is always a stumbling block for people and cultures
who worship and idolize human strength, including Christians and churches today. But if we
count the cost and know what to expect up front, we should redecide whether or not following
Jesus is worth it to us. What we can NOT do, however is to try to reshape the following of Jesus
with ideas and concepts that are contradictory to the lifestyle of “weakness” that He both
exemplified for us and taught to us. That only mixes the gospel of grace and mercy with the lie
of self-protection and self-preservation so that a diluted message is taken to the world,
producing such concepts throughout church history as the Crusades, Holy Wars, and so-called
“just wars.”

Jesus was the King of the Universe. Yet He offered Himself up freely and voluntarily to be
murdered because He knew that in so doing, the strength of His love would overpower and
conquer the so-called strength of human power and force. That is backwards to almost every
culture. But that is the Christ who saved us…the Christ we preach. “So when we preach that
Christ was crucified, the Jews are offended and the Gentiles say it's all nonsense” (1 Cor. 1:23).

He was and is a stumbling block to the Jews, because they envisioned a Messiah conquering
pagans and Gentiles who have oppressed the Jews. He was and is foolishness to the Gentiles,
because they worship and idolize power, strength, and a show of force to get things
accomplished. A weak Messiah or King to either people group is counter-intuitive and
seemingly stupid. So they reject Him. But, as Paul continued in 1 Corinthians 1,

24 But to those called by God to salvation, both Jews and Gentiles, Christ
is the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 This foolish plan of God

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is wiser than the wisest of human plans, and God's weakness is stronger
than the greatest of human strength. 26 Remember, dear brothers and
sisters, that few of you were wise in the world's eyes or powerful or
wealthy when God called you. 27 Instead, God chose things the world
considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he
chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful.
28 God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at
all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers
important…

Paul’s preaching of Christ – that is, the message He actually proclaimed about Christ – was best
preached when it was paralleled with the appropriate lifestyle. In other words, he would be a
hypocrite if he came in preaching the weakness of Christ with a display of human force or
oratorical strength (which he saw as manipulation). So he reminded the Corinthians of his
approach and dealing with them in 1 Corinthians 2.

1 When I first came to you, dear brothers and sisters, I didn't use lofty
words and impressive wisdom to tell you God's secret plan. 2 For I
decided that while I was with you I would forget everything except Jesus
Christ, the one who was crucified. 3 I came to you in weakness—timid
and trembling. 4 And my message and my preaching were very plain.
Rather than using clever and persuasive speeches, I relied only on the
power of the Holy Spirit. 5 I did this so you would trust not in human
wisdom but in the power of God…7 No, the wisdom we speak of is the
mystery of God—his plan that was previously hidden, even though he
made it for our ultimate glory before the world began. 8 But the rulers of
this world have not understood it; if they had, they would not have
crucified our glorious Lord.

They wouldn’t have murdered Jesus because they would have understood that this is the way of
God…mercy, weakness, grace, and kindness. These are stronger than human strength because
only a supernatural kind of strength can actually live them out. Ironically, it is the things that
are the most difficult to do that the world looks at as the weakest thing to do…because inwardly
they know they are actually powerless to do them. So they make fun of them and mock them
and jeer at them…until these things break them down and turn them into the weak, sobbing
babies they actually are in the presence of an all-powerful God. That is what Paul found in his
work among the Corinthians. That’s why he was able to say to them in 2 Corinthians 3:2, “You
yourselves are our letter of recommendation, written on our hearts, to be known and read by
all.” The show of spiritual strength over against the culture of human strength had worn them
down and won them over, though they still struggled with it quite frequently (which is why Paul
had to write so much about it!).

Once again he appealed to a ministry of weakness among them, one which voluntarily invites
suffering and pain and sinful treatment of others into his life in order to absorb it with mercy

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and grace and forgive others in order to win them over. This kind of lifestyle wears one down
closer to death every day and is constantly counter-intuitive to a culture hell-bent on self-
preservation. That’s why he wrote the following in 2 Corinthians 4.

1 Therefore, since God in his mercy has given us this new way, we never
give up. 2 We reject all shameful deeds and underhanded methods. We
don't try to trick anyone or distort the word of God. We tell the truth
before God, and all who are honest know this… 5 You see, we don't go
around preaching about ourselves. We preach that Jesus Christ is Lord,
and we ourselves are your servants for Jesus' sake… 7 We now have this
light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars
containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is
from God, not from ourselves. 8 We are pressed on every side by
troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to
despair. 9 We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get
knocked down, but we are not destroyed. 10 Through suffering, our
bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may
also be seen in our bodies. 11 Yes, we live under constant danger of death
because we serve Jesus, so that the life of Jesus will be evident in our
dying bodies. 12 So we live in the face of death, but this has resulted in
eternal life for you. 13 But we continue to preach because we have the
same kind of faith the psalmist had when he said, "I believed in God, so I
spoke." 14 We know that God, who raised the Lord Jesus, will also raise us
with Jesus and present us to himself together with you. 15 All of this is
for your benefit. And as God's grace reaches more and more people,
there will be great thanksgiving, and God will receive more and more
glory. 16 That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our
spirits are being renewed every day. 17 For our present troubles are small
and won't last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly
outweighs them and will last forever! 18 So we don't look at the troubles
we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For
the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see
will last forever.”

Weakness in the world’s viewpoint is strength in God’s viewpoint…as long as that strength is
motivated by Jesus Christ, of course. This is why the charge of passivism is so strange to me as a
Jesus-follower. A passivist does nothing. But that’s never what Jesus advocates. There’s always
something He calls us to do in response to violence. I have attempted to outline what the
Jesus-follower must do in response to violence in bold-italics. Surely this a lifestyle of activism!

 Matthew 5 – 38 "You have heard the law that says the punishment must match the
injury: 'An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.' 39 But I say, do not resist an evil
person! If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also. 40 If you
are sued in court and your shirt is taken from you, give your coat, too. 41 If a soldier

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demands that you carry his gear for a mile, carry it two miles. 42 Give to those who ask,
and don't turn away from those who want to borrow.

 Matthew 5 - 43 "You have heard the law that says, 'Love your neighbor' and hate your
enemy. 44 But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! 45 In that
way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight
to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. 46 If
you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax
collectors do that much. 47 If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different
from anyone else? Even pagans do that.

 Romans 12 – 1 And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to
God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind
he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. 2 Don't copy the behavior
and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the
way you think. Then you will learn to know God's will for you, which is good and
pleasing and perfect… 9 Don't just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what
is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. 10 Love each other with genuine affection, and
take delight in honoring each other. 11 Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the
Lord enthusiastically. 12 Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep
on praying. 13 When God's people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be
eager to practice hospitality. 14 Bless those who persecute you. Don't curse them;
pray that God will bless them. 15 Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with
those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with each other. Don't be too proud to enjoy the
company of ordinary people. And don't think you know it all! 17 Never pay back evil
with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable.
18 Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. 19 Dear friends, never take
revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, "I will take
revenge; I will pay them back," says the LORD. 20 Instead, "If your enemies are hungry,
feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink. In doing this, you will
heap burning coals of shame on their heads." 21 Don't let evil conquer you, but
conquer evil by doing good.

 1 Peter 2 – 1 So get rid of all evil behavior. Be done with all deceit, hypocrisy, jealousy,
and all unkind speech… 11 Dear friends, I warn you as "temporary residents and
foreigners" to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls.
12 Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they
accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give
honor to God when he judges the world… 21 For God called you to do good, even if it
means suffering, just as Christ suffered* for you. He is your example, and you must
follow in his steps. 22 He never sinned, nor ever deceived anyone. 23 He did not
retaliate when he was insulted, nor threaten revenge when he suffered. He left his case
in the hands of God, who always judges fairly.

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Some may say that this makes Jesus-followers “doormats.” So be it. I prefer “welcome mats”
where the world scrapes the hate and bitterness and anger and crap from the bottom of their
shoes on the way into the kingdom. A weakness that can take that kind of treatment and still
love and forgive is actually not weak at all. It's TRUE strength and power...the kind that will
overpower evil and overcome it with the good of the gospel. It takes a violent sort of love to sit
there in place, and stay put, and absorb all the mistreatment of the world in order to win these
kinds of people to Jesus Christ.

2. Love is violent.

When you love like Jesus did and taught us to, it looks radically different from how the world
perceives relationships. That kind of love is spiritually violent because it slays unforgiveness and
bitterness and conflict. Love goes out of its way to forgive and overcome with grace and mercy.

3. War is sinful.

War has and always will be about taking life to get more than you have…or taking life to protect
what you have. Yet Jesus teaches that the way of His unearthly Kingdom is to give up what you
have, and don’t ask for it in return, and to be content with what God has given you. He will
provide for us, which destroys all motivations to kill to get, or kill to protect.

4. Hate is hypocritical.

Jesus taught us the “Golden Rule” which comes from Matthew 7. Whatever you want people to
do to you, do that to them. When people who say they are Christians hate anyone else, no
matter who they are or how bad they are, it is hypocritical, since you would never want anyone
to hate you. What is more, your sin before God is just as bad as that other person’s. So why
should they get justice and not you? Why should they get what’s coming to them and not you?
These attitudes are generally driven by hatred. But if the love of the Father is in your heart, you
will love one another.

The attitude of the Jesus-follower is Counter-intuitively, Self-sacrificial.

It cuts against and back across every built-in sense we have as human beings for self-
preservation. And Jesus knows this, which is why He says that if you want to follow Him, you
must deny yourself, take up your death sentence, lay down your life, and follow Him.

"I do not understand a world that allows for a man to cause so much pain and I
do not understand a world that rejoices in the death of that man who just
happens to be created in the image of God. Perhaps everyone is right. Perhaps
the death of Osama Bin Laden has made this world more safe. I do not believe,
however, that his death has made this world more beautiful." (Quoted in an
email of a friend of Brian Mclaren’s).

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