Saturday, March 12, 2011

Note to Self:

Never, ever, ever, ever, ever listen, read, watch or observe any doings of the westboro "baptist church" before going to bed.

It will only make you hot with rage.

The upside: you pray 1,000 harder for Jesus to move in people's hearts.

I am not generally a hateful person (squirrels, robots and bananas aside). And I try (and sometimes fail) to think the best of people and not talk bad about people behind their backs. And I try really hard to trust that the Holy Spirit actually resides in most people who profess to follow Christ.

The phelps phamily of the westboro "baptist church" is one group that I have not yet learned to do any of the above yet (Jesus is still working on me). When I think about the message of hate they spread...when I think about the havoc they wreck on lives of thousands of people...when I think about how terribly they pervert the name of Jesus Christ in the heart breaks.

And they are not the only group who takes this God-awful (yes, I mean that literally) approach to human interaction and biblical reflection. There are millions of individuals who daily live hate rather than love, who show apathy rather than compassion, who proclaim God's wrath and completely disregard the joy of His mercy. And there are days when I do it as well: when I don't love those around me the way Christ asked me to, when I fail to proclaim His truth with my words and my actions, when I turn a blind eye to the "least of these."

In the moments where I realize that I too have fallen short of God's glorious intention for my life, for my relationships with others, with my relationship with Him, I think: "how much have I ruined someone's impression of Christ today?"

Seeing these people utterly pervert the message of the Bible makes it easy for me to understand why someone would gladly chose not to become a Christian. If I didn't absolutely believe that Jesus Christ is so much more than what these nimrods make Him out to be, I wouldn't allow myself to be clumped with them either.

Yet, I hold on to the promise that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. He loved without restraint, He called out those hypocrites who blasphemed the name of God by turning His house into a casino, who cared more about a person's appearance than their heart, who loved themselves more than they loved the disenfranchised and the marginalized. Jesus Christ loved the broken, the down-trodden, the hopeless. He loves the single mom who has to dance exotically to pay rent; He loves the teenager hidden in the "closet"; He loves the alcoholic who panhandles for more booze; He loves the middle-class family who "do" church on Sunday, but have no idea how to follow Him once they leave the building; He loves the burn-out pastor, the woman struggling with depression, the bickering couple, the deadbeat dad, the seminary student who gets caught up learning about God rather than loving God.

None of these people are outside of the vastness of God's love. For each one, God wants to give so much more than what they think they can have. He wants to give His love and mercy and His perfect plan for relationship with Him. His love changes people; it changes people into people who love like God loves, who live like God intended them to live, who desire to be what God called them to be - holy, righteous sons and daughters of a Holy God.

"Christians" who hate don't exist. People who don't know the love of Jesus hate.
You'll know real Christians when you see them - they are messy and screwed up and broken, but by God...they love.

And I just need to pray a lot more that the love of Jesus will change a particular family in Kansas.


Sara said...

I love this post.
I love you.

We get their "press releases" at work every Monday morning and it just makes my stomach sour. I used to look at them and laugh at how dumb, but now I don't even look or laugh at them. The best thing I can do for that church is to recycle the paper, instead of throwing it in the trash (which is where it belongs).

Jen said...

love this. love you.