God loves Osama Bin Laden. He loves OBL as much as he loves you.
Hard words to read, right?
But it’s true. God loves all of his children equally. Even the bad ones….
That doesn’t mean that God doesn’t hate what Bin Laden did on September 11th, 2001, when he killed 3000 innocent people. When OBL exponentially destroyed 3000 families and permanently altered the lives of millions more, God took notice.
God was like a disappointed parent. If your child grew up to be a mass murderer, a corner of your heart would still hold blind, unconditional love for that child. You might search your soul inside and out, and you would ask yourself, where did you go wrong raising that child? You would be mad, embarrassed, disappointed, shocked, bewildered, and numb. But you would still love that child.
Now consider that no matter how egregious a sin may be, no sin is unforgiveable.
For example, who is the most sinful person you can think of? Adolf Hitler, Saddam Hussein, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, Attila The Hun, Leopold II, Pol Pot, Josef Stalin, Mao…? It is reasonable to assume these horrible men are rotting in hell. However, judge not lest we be judged.
It’s pretty easy to suggest we can forgive anything. But those guys listed above? Come on, really?
If any of those men sincerely asked the Lord for forgiveness, even on their death bed, would the Lord not grant it to them?
For the families of victims of these heinous men, the “F” word (forgiveness) might be unthinkable. But keep in mind how Jesus Christ hung barbarically from a wooden cross, with His own blood pouring out of His body, and asked God the Father to forgive the men who slaughtered Him, for they did not know what they were doing.
Could you forgive others while they were killing you? Jesus did.
Almost two millennia later, a recovered Pope John Paul II forgave a Turkish gunman, Ali Agca, who shot him point blank in St. Peter’s Square in 1981. The Pope visited Agca in prison in 1983 to personally tell the Turk he was forgiven. Remarkably, Agca’s response to the pope was, “Why aren’t you dead?”
Pope John Paul II later wrote, “The act of forgiveness is the first and fundamental condition so that we aren’t divided and placed one against another like enemies.”
Could you forgive a man who tried to assassinate you? Pope John Paul II did.
Could you forgive Osama Bin Laden for killing 3000 Americans?
Hmm. Still a tough one, right?
I suppose the further you find yourself from ground zero, literally and figuratively, the easier it may be for you to let go and forgive.
Contrarily, if your dad was killed in the World Trade Center, or your child was on American Airlines flight 77 that crashed into the Pentagon, for example, you may need the rest of your life to find forgiveness. Or, perhaps, that moment will never come. Such a person may feel that it is up to God to forgive an act like that. As humans we may not feel capable of such forgiveness. However, given the examples of generosity stated earlier by Jesus and Pope John Paul II, Devine and human forgiveness are possible, even for the darkest of sins.
Keep in mind Ephesians says if we seek forgiveness for ourselves then we must also be willing to forgive.
Before Jesus’ crucifixion He repeatedly preached how we must forgive in order to be forgiven. Indeed, there are numerous quotes on the subject in Mark 11:25, Luke 6:36-37 and 17:3-4, Matthew 18:21-22, 5:44, and 6:14-15.
It’s ironic to note that the Gospel writers do not agree on many facts or translations. But they are locked in unity when it comes to Jesus preaching forgiveness.
To conclude that if Osama Bin Laden had asked God for forgiveness before Navy Seal Team 6 ended his life, it is probable to assume the good Lord granted it. Although, honestly, we prefer to picture OBL’s tortured soul agonizing in the eternal sadness of Hell. If nothing else, it is very difficult to imagine him within the comforts of heaven, side by side with the 3000 souls he sent up there in 2001.
For those of us on earth who seek justice, rest assured, OBL probably never dreamed of asking God for forgiveness because he never thought he did anything wrong. Therefore, the chances of us breaking bread with him in heaven someday are probably pretty remote.