I live in Topeka, Kansas.
The capital city. Home of Brown vs Board of Education, all you can eat restaurants......and Westboro Baptist Church.
The church that causes national commotion is 4 minutes from my house. 10 minutes if I ride my bike.
I drive past it on my way to the grocery store, to Sonic happy hour, to the dog park and to my favorite pizza joint.
I accidentally got their mail once.
The church sits right off 12th street, the size of an average IHOP restaurant. If it wasn't for the large "GodhatesAmerica" poster plastered on the side, it would likely go unnoticed, tucked behind a privacy fence in a relatively quiet neighborhood. But the WBC sign on the corner faces the street, proclaiming hate to drivers on 12th street.
It changes almost daily. "God hates your tears!" "America is going to hell!" And my personal favorite "REPENT BLAKE SHELTON!"
I tweeted a picture of that last one with a sarcastic comment because I thought it was sort of funny of them to call out 1 person. It didn't turn out so funny....Westboro found my tweet somehow, changed the wording to sound supportive and retweeted it. Next thing I know, I have hate messages and tweets coming my direction like rapid fire.
I am not scared of Westboro, but Blake Shelton fans...you are scary!!!
I deleted that tweet, for the sake of my name being in any way associated with the group.
But unfortunately, I am associated.
I am associated because I believe in God. I believe He is powerful. I believe He is wrathful. I believe He will judge. I believe He hates our idols.
Where Westboro and I collide is the concept of Jesus.
Romans 5:8 "But God demonstrates His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us."
God sent His only son to die on a cross. Jesus absorbed ALL of the wrath, judgement and sin we deserved. We do not have to live in fear of God's wrath because of His sacrifice.
THAT is LOVE.
THAT is GRACE.
THAT is FORGIVENESS.
It makes me so angry that I am associated with a group like Westboro. I am angry they have protested the funerals of men and women who died for my freedom -who died for Westboro to have their freedom of speech.
I am angry they have given people a reason to hate church.
I am angry they hate sinners no different than me.
I am reminded. With Matthew 7:3.
Though our world has created a weighted scale of wrongs, God's scale is different. There is no heavy or extra heavy sin.
Sin is sin is sin is sin. It's equal. None worse than another.
It doesn't make sense. It probably will never make sense. But that's where faith steps in.
I am reminded....
God created Fred Phelps.
God loves Fred Phelps.
God gives grace to Fred Phelps.
God offers forgiveness to Fred Phelps.
Whether he accepted the gift of Jesus or not, Fred Phelps is loved by God.
I am sorry you are sick, Fred Phelps. I pray you know the God that I know, Fred Phelps. I forgive you, Fred Phelps.
I will not hate you Westboro Church.