This week I've been thinking a lot about the death of Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan. I have mixed feelings about this. My initial reaction to the news was somewhat hawkish. “Got him!,” I thought, as I pumped my fist in the air. Bin Laden was someone that Jesus died for, but subconsciously rejected him. We shouldn’t think that anyone is beyond the reach of God’s grace, but clearly some people are so hardened in their hearts that they are irredeemably evil and he was one of them.
As I wrote this post I looked up an online Bible reference tool to look up the keyword harden. There are numerous passages in both Testaments that describe the depravity that humanity falls into whenever they harden their hearts against God. As you trace the grand narrative of redemptive history, this seems to be a recurring theme. Time and time God calls people and nations to repent, and sometimes they do. When they ignore Him and refuse to repent, eventually God steps back and leaves them to the consequences of their rebellion, in effect saying, "Fine, have it your way."
This brings Him no pleasure. We can also infer from Scripture that God is grieved whenever someone goes to eternity without Him (Romans 2:4, 1 Timothy 2:4, 2 Peter 3:8). It was a horrible way to die, but I deeply empathise with the victims of September 11, who presumably now have some closure. Even though it was almost 10 years ago, I remember crying a lot that day. This event was seminal in reshaping my perception of how depraved human nature can be.