Yesterday, I read a headline with Osama Bin Laden’s face on it and large, thick white letters exclaiming, “Rot in Hell!”
Yesterday, while hoping onto Fox News Channel and catching an interview with Rudy Giuliani and Sean Hannity, Rudy mentioned that Osama is burning in hell and was met with nods and a slight chuckle from both.
Yesterday, former Arkansas governor and 2008 presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, told the Al-Qaida leader, “Welcome to hell.”
A large number of us seem to be celebrating this fact: Osama burning, rotting, being welcomed into hell.
10 years ago, on 9/11, the same was being said about the infidel victims of 9/11 as our enemies watched the towers burn and ultimately collapse. I can see one of them mentioning their hellish destination, met by slight grins and nods. I can picture large white letters saying, “Americans Rot in Hell.”
Since Hell seems to be an enemy-cursing hammer used by many, let’s go there. I mean, let’s really go there.
In fact, if we really believe that Jesus talks about a literal Hell and that all those who do not trigger God’s favor, forgiveness and heaven’s-gate to open through their proper mental belief efforts go to the Hell Jesus spoke of (endless fire, weeping, gnashing of teeth, worms that eat and eat and eat, darkness, and undying thirst for all eternity), then to be fair, let’s go there with the victims of 9/11.
[Now before we do, please hear me. This literal Hell is not my belief. It causes me pain and sadness to go here because, to me, it is a wretched thought. I also have great love towards all the victims of 9/11 and their families and in no way do I do this to make light of their loss nor to mock what happened. But there are very many people out there that believe (or at least are too afraid to admit that they don't believe in Hell, and I understand) that the following scenario is accurate and God's truth. I also find it sad that if they truly believed this that they would not at least mention it in mourning, deep anguish and tears].
Using this literal-Hell theology and a very generous estimate … fifty percent (more or less, but probably more) of the innocent victims of 9/11 are sharing the same eternal fate as the kingpin of their massacre, Osama Bin Laden. Yesterday, people were saying that Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin were waiting to greet Osama in Hell. Well, apparently a lot of his 9/11 victims were greeting him too.
The 21-year-old intern who was raised by a New York family who rejected Christianity and adopted the same rejection, as she jumped out of the towering window to avoid the jet-fuel fire and landing to her death, suddenly found herself in a much worst eternal fate, prompting her I am sure, to yearn to be returned back into the flames of the Trade Center.
The 54-year-old janitor who was raped as a young boy by his priest and deeply scarred that this is who God is and what God does, and rejects God for 54 years, as he was suddenly vaporized on 9/11 is now longing to be back in the twisted arms of his priest compared to the never-ending Hell he finds himself.
The 13-year-old girl and her 4-year-old brother on flight 93 who never heard of the saving grace of Jesus and had a chance to “believe”, as their terror rose as the plane careened to the ground both suddenly finds themselves in a terror and torment they could have never imagined.
The 30-year-old man who flat out rejected the message of Jesus and turned to money for happiness and numbing, finds himself in Hell next to the secretary he just had sex with the night before.
These and over a thousand other individual stories could be fleshed out for each victim of 9/11 who did not make a saving confession of belief so God could extend heaven’s key and forgiveness to them. As well as Osama. As well as the American soldier killed in action without Jesus. As well as…
My point in doing this is threefold.
One, if you do believe in an eternal literal hell then that should never be something to be spoken lightly of, celebrated or used flippantly towards any human being. NEVER! To do so makes us no different than every other person/religion that does the same to us. (Remember the Golden Rule?) (And if you play the card of a non-tormenting Hell, that they will simply be “outside of God’s presence” then you, like me, have to do something with Jesus’ hellish descriptive words).
Two, if you believe in an eternal literal hell then your mind should apply it much like I did above to every human death and situation so your heart can continue to weep in horror. And in tears, you should be telling every single person you know, see and come in contact with about their eternal destination. EVERY conversation should begin with, “If you were to die today, do you know where you would spend eternity? You have two options…” If not, how can you live with yourself? I would be an emotional mess!
And three, perhaps there is another story scripture speaks of besides this hell-laced one. Perhaps there is another motive besides fear and avoidance. Perhaps belief that we are loved and forgiven has all the power to change and shape us. Perhaps there is room after we die to respond to God’s love and declared forgiveness. Perhaps those who died in 9/11 “without Jesus” have now seen Jesus, their chaff has been removed and their wheat remains, and they are in the glorious presence of a God who made them to be loved. Perhaps even Osama, being made by God in God’s image, is being restored as we speak (and yes, perhaps there is even some penalty being dished out for his sins) and he is standing face to face with the reality of his actions and his victims. Perhaps they are all in tears and Jesus is bottling each one. Perhaps the lion indeed is sleeping with the lamb and behold, all things are being made new. Perhaps the most powerful Osama/victim foot washing is taking place, and everyone is welcoming it in healing. Perhaps the priest who molested that boy is being reconciled through the pain he caused and that boy is being reconciled by seeing God as God really is, not the molested image he was given on earth.
And perhaps this notion of “Hell” is the ultimate lie and deception to cause us to have a twisted and demented view of a loving and just God, and to get us to live, walk and respond in fear. Perhaps hell is the ultimate weapon we use against and to curse the “other”, whoever your “other” is.
(For what it’s worth, this was emotionally the most difficult thing I’ve written)