Monday, March 15, 2010

Would Jesus wash Osama Bin Laden's feet?

You see the above painting? It is an image which portrays Jesus washing the feet of several world leaders in the year it was made. These include Tony Blair, Kofi Annan, Bush, a former prime minister of India, and perhaps most strikingly, Osama Bin Laden. This man certainly stands out in this painting – not only due to his white robe, but also to his image as one of the most hated men in the world (at least by most Americans).

This was a news story a few years ago in the Seattle area. A Christian conference organization named Heavenly Sanctuary was going to have a get-together discussing the character of God, and they hired the Justinen Creative Group to create a poster- and this is what the artist came up with. The captions for it included “Follow the Leader”, “God IS Great”, and “Jesus- Still Too Radical?” The last one is my favorite. To make a long story short, the Christian community in the Seattle area went up in arms about this poster, and pressured the malls where it was put up to take it down. The offended Christians succeeded, and soon this thought-provoking piece of art was removed.

Why am I bringing up something from a few years ago to write about? In short, I feel the need to address this issue quite directly. Would Jesus wash Osama Bin Laden’s feet? My answer is this: unequivocally yes. In my view, the answer to this question needs to get discussed, since clearly there is difference of opinion of the appropriateness of the image.

To clarify the topic being discussed here, this isn’t a discussion of questions such as “Does Jesus forgive Osama?” or “Will Osama go to heaven?”, nor is it a discussion of anything regarding the relationship between the United States and Osama.

I want us to focus in on this: Does Jesus love Osama? Did Jesus die for Osama bin Laden just as much as he died for you and I? Wouldn’t Jesus wash Osama’s feet?

Scripture is clear.

Jesus would.

This is one of the steps of loving our neighbor, of loving our enemies. Jesus directly tells us to do both. We need to see the worth in others, the worth in those that we might think don’t even deserve to live. We need to love those people, just as Christ loved us. Jesus died for everyone, even if not everyone chooses Jesus.

So, why the backlash against this painting? Where is the offense? How is this painting not representing Jesus? I see it as one of the most succinct and powerful images of Christ I have ever seen. It makes me sad that some found it offensive, rather than inspiring. It should serve as a reminder to love and serve everyone, including your enemy. Instead, it became a news story for Christians offended by a beautifully symbolic work of art.

Take another look at the painting. It’s beautiful.