Love or Hate

by DanWolgemuth on November 2, 2007

“God Hates You.” A photograph in the USA Today showed a placard with these words. It was being carried by the picketing members of the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas.

The story was birthed when the church was sued by the father of Lance Corporal Matthew Snyder, who lost his life in the war in Iraq. Church members had waved posters with messages of judgment and hate at the funeral of this fallen Marine. Ironically, the messages of retribution have been protected by the very soldiers that this church despises. The blood that purchased freedom of expression is the ink that is used to scrawl messages of hatred.

But in the middle of the hate, the legal wrangling, and confused positions, God’s name is invoked. For the record, God does not, and did not hate Matthew Snyder. He’s not looking for reasons to destroy mankind, He’s had plenty. In fact, and most profoundly, God doesn’t even hate Fred Phelps, the founder of the Westboro Baptist Church, even though the man profanes and misrepresents the definition of who God is.

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. ~ 1 John 4:7, 8

Although the court defended the family of Matthew Snyder, the misrepresentation of God will remain “unjudged” for the time being. But rest assured those that blaspheme the name of God will answer for the claims, my challenge is not to be invited into their fray by committing the same sin against them.

Jesus, our master teacher, echoed the words that answered the assault of hatred. During His own execution He pleaded for those that misunderstood Him the most by saying:

“Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

I pray that The Church will show genuine love and compassion for the family of Matthew Snyder. I pray that their love will be compelling and comforting. I pray that out of the contrast will come hope and clarity, but I pray as well, that I will not let the putrid smell of hatred suck me into the same cesspool of judgment.

Fred Phelps will answer for the words he’s written, and he’ll have company, I just don’t want to be anywhere close.

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