Lots of people have been discussing how Christians should think of Osama Bin Laden’s death. If you are subscribed in a reader, you might have received a post I was starting to pull together on that — but which was unfinished and just a collection of notes at that point.
John Piper has some helpful things to say on the larger issue that this is a sub-set of, and I had started pulling them together for a possible post. After copying in a couple of verses and a John Piper quote (but not yet the main one), I accidentally hit “post” instead of “save” (I’m doing this on an iPad [long story] and hit the wrong button).
Anyway, the post was very incomplete. It had one quote, but not the most helpful one. Sorry for the mix-up!
Here is the link to Piper’s sermon where he addresses the larger issue involved here: “The Pleasure of God in All That He Does.”
And here’s the very helpful section I was intending to quote:
I have commended a solution to you before and I will commend it again: namely, that the death and misery of the unrepentant is in and of itself no delight to God (Ezekiel 33:11). God is not a sadist. He is not malicious or bloodthirsty. Instead, when a rebellious, wicked, unbelieving person is judged, what God delights in is the vindication of truth and goodness and of his own honor and glory.
… those who have rebelled against the Lord and moved beyond repentance will not be able to gloat that they have made the Almighty miserable. Quite the contrary. Moses says that when they are judged, they will unwittingly give an opportunity for God to rejoice in the demonstration of his justice and his power and the infinite worth of his glory (Deut 28:63).
The Wall Street Journal also has an article that gives a helpful short summary: How Bin Laden Was Found and Killed.
The other day I came across an excerpt from the new book by Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, Onward: How Starbucks Fought for Its Life without Losing Its Soul. I don’t know if he’s a believer or not, but right at the start he does a fantastic job of articulating, in shadow form, a core concept of the biblical doctrine of vocation. Here’s what he says:
Only weeks earlier, I’d sat in my Seattle office holding back-to-back meetings about how to quickly fix myriad problems that were beginning to surface inside the company. One team had to figure out how we could, in short order, retrain 135,000 baristas to pour the perfect shot of espresso.
Pouring espresso is an art, one that requires the barista to care about the quality of the beverage. If the barista only goes through the motions, if he or she does not care and produces an inferior espresso that is too weak or too bitter, then Starbucks has lost the essence of what we set out to do 40 years ago: inspire the human spirit.
I realize this is a lofty mission for a cup of coffee, but this is what merchants do. We take the ordinary—a shoe, a knife—and give it new life, believing that what we create has the potential to touch others’ lives because it touched ours.
Here’s the point: the ordinary is not ordinary. Rather, it is in the ordinary that we are able to build people up and, yes, inspire the human spirit.
When you clean house for your family, or pour a cup of coffee, or take your car to the wash, you aren’t just doing small, mundane things. You are building building people up. You are making things better, and making a statement that people matter. Or, that’s how you ought to see it.
And the doctrine of vocation takes us further than this. For it means that, when we serve others in the everyday, it is actually God himself who is serving people through us. God is hidden in the everyday. This is true if we are believers; and God is also working through unbelievers, even if they don’t know it (Gene Veith makes this point very well in God at Work: Your Christian Vocation in All of Life
when he discusses why we pray in the Lord’s Prayer “give us this day our daily bread” when we actually get it from the grocery store, who got it from the bread company, who got the ingredients from various other spots, and so forth).
In fact, the doctrine of vocation even takes us one more step. When we, as followers of Christ, serve others for his sake, we aren’t just serving them. We are actually serving the Lord himself. “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ” (Colossians 3:23-24; see also Ephesians 6:7-8).