Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Day 12 of Lent, Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The rumor is that Fred Phelps, founder of Westboro Baptist Church, is dying and in hospice care.

His church has perpetuated hate in the name of God.  They have the obscene practice of picketing military funerals.  The twisted logic behind this act is that God is allowing the soldiers to be killed because the United States is too soft on homosexuality.

These signs are sometimes held by children.
Matthew 18:6 comes to mind.
I have mixed feelings about his impending death.  I'm glad that he won't be around to influence others with his hate.  But I would rather that he had an epiphany in his faith and rejected his previous hatred.  Even if it was a death bed confession or conversion.

I would rather see him embrace the love of Christ rather than die in bitterness and hatred.

I am quick to judge Phelps and Westboro.  In fact, it comes rather easy like avoiding oncoming traffic in a busy street.

I know, I know.  We are not supposed to judge.

I judge their actions and creeds on the standards of the Wesleyan Quadrilateral: Scripture, Tradition, Experience and Reason.

I see that their actions and beliefs do not fit with any of the four pillars mentioned above. I've mentioned them in more than one sermon as an example for why we are not fundamentalists and what can happen when we focus on particular passages without viewing them around the meta-stories of scripture as a whole.

However, I do not judge their worth as human beings or as children of God.  They've misused their free will as have I.

A wonderful post about them was written by another United Methodist pastor, Jeremy Smith. He gives a great summary on our conflicted feelings on the death of another as couched in Christian hospitality.

As we encounter others who are jerks, our job is not to accept their jerkiness.  Our job is to see past it and pray for them - and maybe to influence them to the better.

On this 12th day of Lent, how are you praying for your enemies and those who persecute you?  How are you seeing past their actions and seeing them as fellow human beings - afraid, hurt and lonely?

Photo by JCWilmore (Own work) [CC-BY-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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