Just when I thought the Westboro Baptist Church community had settled down with their hateful messages (especially since they were brought to the Supreme Court for their ridiculousness), I woke up this morning to an article from the Huffington Post detailing WBC plans to picket yet another funeral. It disgusts me at how careless and insincere these people have been in delivering their message, especially since they claim to be “Christians.”
But I find their “convictions” inconsistent with their conduct. Actually, I believe they’re blatantly contradictory.
In the gospel of John, we see some real diversity of Jesus as to who He is (who He says He is), what He does, and the emotions He has. Particularly interesting to me is what’s revealed in the wake of His friend Lazarus: He feels pain. “Jesus wept,” John 11:35, is a famous verse not only because it’s the shortest one we have, but also because with it says about our God. There is debate about what He was weeping about (was it His friend’s death or the lack of faith of the mourners?), but one thing is certain: Jesus feels deeply for the people He visited, as He feels deeply for the people of today. If we’re called to be like Jesus and to follow His ways, then we’re called to feel the pain of others and to mourn with them. We’re even exhorted to do so in Romans 12:15; “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.”
I do not see such compassionate conduct from the zealots of Westboro Baptist Church. If anything, I see something entirely worldly and not at all Godly. Not even close.
Ravi Zacharias, a renown Christian author, says it this way, “The politics of Jesus were spiritually foundational, not morally dictatorial. He desire to rule in the hearts of men and women with the imperative of love and truth, not with the sword and the imperatives of fear and legalism,” (Has Christianity Failed You?, 32). With the “fear of God” message that Westboro Baptist Church has given specifically in regard to Elizabeth Edwards, they contradict what Jesus calls His followers to do.
With as frustrated as I am over this “church,” I can do nothing but encourage followers of Christ to keep following Christ and not any group within Christianity – however large or small they may be – because the damage can be devastating. And usually, groups like WBC never backtrack to clean up their own mess, which leaves the dirty work for the rest of us who want to follow Christ.
It’s pretty clear to the majority of people that the WBC has inappropriately used their right to speak freely. But what isn’t always so clear is how we should react in their wake. On one hand we want to retaliate, but on the other, we don’t want to stoop to that level. To help provide some clarity, I have focused on what WBC is using: A funeral for Elizabeth Edwards. Her family, her children, her ex-husband are all in a state of mourning and having this pending protest only adds on to it all. What I’ve been doing and what I suggest to everyone else is to pray for that family and their ability to overcome this painful season with all the distractions. It’s tempting to lash out at groups such as WBC, but it’s probably not the best thing to do. Instead, pray that those who are being attacked would reflect Christ more than those who claim to. Pray that would find a way to turn the other cheek.
“Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’ To the contrary, ‘if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good,” – Romans 12:19-21