Monday, May 30, 2011

What would Jesus protest?

I was reading about that horrible cult led by Fred Phelps. I am truly repulsed by this man, and ashamed at the reproach he has brought to the name of Christ.  (It's one thing to be a sick, hateful jerk, it's another to be a sick, hateful jerk and claim that Jesus made you do it.)  I hate that people look as his brand of vitriol and associate it in any way with my Savior.  I hate that this "preacher" takes verses from the Holy Scriptures and misuses them.  It makes me ill.

I know we are called to evangelize.  But when I read the Scriptures, especially the words of Christ, I hear a different command than the one Fred Phelps is hearing (which is, apparently, "insult folks into the kingdom").  I read the words of my Master and hear that I am to share the Good News.  I hear that I am to share a message of reconciliation between an unrighteous sinner and a Holy God.

I understand that people must repent and realize their sin before they can be reconciled.  I reject the watered down self-help gospel that does not require repentence.  But I fail to see how calling names and claiming every bad thing that happens to America is a divine judgment is evangelism.  Is this man making converts?  Are sinners being reconciled with their God through his teachings?

Now I realize the Mr. Phelps is a pretty extreme example of a Christian picketer.  I realize there are many others who have picketed at Pride parades and abortion clinics and other places who do not hold to the vile teachings of Mr. Phelps.

But I still wonder what Jesus would picket.  I wonder if He would be standing anywhere holding a sign of condemnation.  And if He did, wouldn't it be in front of a "church" like Mr. Phelps'?  In the Gospels Jesus saved His most scathing criticism for self-righteous religious folks. To the sinner He reached out with salvation, to those who thought themselves righteous He lashed out with condemnation.

If the Church is truly the hands and feet of Christ, shouldn't we be reaching out, promoting reconciliation and healing?  Shouldn't we be bringing people to the Savior so He can restore shalom (wholeness) to their lives?  Isn't the Good News more than just a judgment or a "don't" list?   Have picket signs ever caused a sinner to turn, or do they simply strengthen the resolve of the foolish to continue on their merry way towards destruction?

I understand that we cannot stand for sin in our own lives, but isn't the Church most effective when we allow God to cleanse us first and then reach down into the pit and help folks up?   I realize that the Cross is a stumbling block and the ways of God seem foolish to man, but can we let the Cross be offensive enough without adding the shame of our own nasty, hateful behavior? 

I am not saying that we should be soft on sin.  I am not saying we should lie about things that offend God.  I am not proposing that we seek to please people with our words instead of Christ, or that we should allow our feelings to dictate our stance on subjects of morality.  But I am saying we should clean house first.  Focus on our own hearts and our own sin.


Aimee said...


Mama to little lions said...

Amen Sista!