Watching all of the celebrations tonight about the death of the man named Osama Bin Laden, I had a strange thought. What if you died, arrived in heaven, and then saw Osama Bin Laden there?
Osama Bin Laden was a sinner. I am a sinner. In terms of what we both deserve, the punishment is the same.
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23 (NIV)
I have trusted Jesus Christ as my Savior. Thus, in an act of unimaginable grace, his death on the cross gets applied to my debt. I am forgiven for my sins and receive eternal life.
Jesus also died on that cross for the sins of Osama Bin Laden. As far as we know (which is not very far), Osama Bin Laden never accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. However, if he did so before his death—truly repented, confessed, and believed on the Lord Jesus Christ—he would also receive eternal life (see John 3:16).
How many of us could accept living next door to Osama Bin Laden in our eternal home? I’m not saying it’s likely, but it’s possible. The love and forgiveness of Jesus is that wide. There will be murderers in heaven. There will be rapists in heaven. All of those who have accepted the gift of redemption and enter into a relationship with Jesus Christ will be in heaven—regardless of their actions. The actions that we consider “big” sins, God just considers sin. Jesus died for all sin, not only what we deem big sin.
I realize this post probably won’t be popular. It’s more fun to celebrate and feel avenged for the horrible tragedy that took place on September 11, 2001. I’m not trying to make a political statement. Nor do I want to minimize the terror that we all felt in 2001. I’m also not saying that Osama Bin Laden received Jesus Christ as his Savior; it’s extremely unlikely given what we know about his belief system.
But if Osama Bin Laden spends eternity in hell, it won’t be because his sins were worse than mine—it will be because he didn’t accept the free gift of salvation offered by Jesus Christ.
Scandalous? Yes, the depth of the grace and love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ is that scandalous. No one is beyond the reach of his redemption.
And that is something to celebrate.
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8 (NIV)
**If you want to learn more about faith in Jesus Christ and eternal life, please click here.