And now he is under hospice care and possibly in his last days. Many things are being written by Christians and thought leaders regarding this man, his opinions, and what to do with him now that he is dying. I'll be honest that I haven't read all of it and frankly choose not to spend my time reading all of it. I have read one post on the matter by Jonathan Storment. I like many of the things that Jonathan is saying here. (click the word "here" to read his post). Jonathan focuses on the God is has more GOOD to offer than the HATE the world can offer. I think he's right about that. God is not light on sin, but he never hates people, only acts of unrighteousness that are so prevalent in our broken world.
So how do we respond to the hate in the world. I think it is really simple to say, but hard to live. The answer of course is love. What does love look like in this instance. Well if we have had anything to say about the sins of Phelps or WBC, maybe we should be willing to pray for those that will be affected by his death. Maybe we can pray for a revival of love in this situation. We might need to combat the evil and hate presented by sharing the truth and the gospel (good news) and the love rather than exploiting the hate of others with our own "righteous" hate. And please be honest, that there is hate all around us. Sometimes it comes in the form of those picketing a soldiers funeral or the bombing of an abortion clinic or injuring or killing others because of their sexual orientation. And other times it comes in the form of writing a vindictive email or Facebook post about those who hate or gossiping about others in your church. Maybe there is also hate towards those doing good, because people are simply jealous of what someone else may be doing. What we prescribe for one hate, should be the prescription for any other hate.
I prescribe God, His love, His Son, grace, mercy, reconciliation, restoration, kindness, faithfulness, and the Holy Spirit.
I'll end with this story:
One morning during my junior year in High School one of my friends, I'll call him John, was beaten by a gang at our school. John was funny and ran his mouth at others in order to get the laugh. He was pretty harmless, but could make you mad if you didn't get him. So one day John ran his mouth at another friend of ours, Carlos. Carlos was humiliated in front of some of his other gang members and didn't like the joke. He and his gang friends confronted John. John did what most testosterone-induced adolescent males do and stood up to him. That didn't end up going well. Carlos took John down and he and his gang began to beat John and kick john not relenting. John's friend, Tim, had a front-row seat and was witnessing the senseless beating of his friend. He loved his friend and knowing that this could end up being fatal did the only thing he could do against an angry gang in the midst of the typical fight mob of a high school that takes place. Tim chose the most vulnerable part of John's body, his head and face and laid his own body over John. Now all of those kicks and fists were buffered from John's face and head to Tim's body. The fight was broken up and thankfully my friend John survived. It would be weeks before he could return to school due to the extent of his injuries, but he did return...saved by peaceful love.
Tim taught all of us that day what it means to love and be the presence of love in the midst of hate. We who believe in Jesus Christ and have confidence in the Spirit over the flesh will be willing to throw ourselves into the barrage of hate and absorb it, so that the intended target will only feel the repercussions of the love that exudes from the sacrifice of love. That sacrifice is the ultimate stand against hate. It is when Christ dies on a cross so that hate becomes rendered powerless and love conquers all. The cross is the ultimate symbol of how love can overcome hate. An instrument of the Roman government to torture criminals to death, becomes the place where hate and sin are tortured and decimated forevermore. And on the third day when the sun rises, death lost its sting and life...a life of love has become the new way...the ONLY way!
What do we do with hate? We don't become hate toward those who hate. We allow the Love, who is God, to conquer it once and for all!