“Do not judge others, and you will not be judged.” Matthew 7:1
I have only sadness and pity in my heart for Fred Phelps and the church he started.
If the name sounds familiar, but you cannot place it, Fred Phelps is the man who beget the Westboro Baptist Church (WBC). The church that makes those of us who follow Jesus cringe. The church that causes non-believers to turn away from Christianity.
I feel no anger, no hatred, because I understand the simple yet profound truth that if they do not allow the God who loves us to transform their hearts they will never experience the eternal life that Christ so nobly and courageously gave us.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
God loves the world – not just some of us. He wants all of us to have a relationship with Him, not just some of us. Jesus welcomed sinners and soldiers and tax collectors into his fold. He was their Shepherd, not their accuser. He loved them and taught them and healed them; he didn’t picket at their funerals.
We are all sinners in our own way. Those of us who have allowed the love of Jesus to transform us have an understanding of the grace given to us. We have an understanding that we didn’t deserve it.
Christ freed us from the desire to hate or judge. He freed us to love and include. He freed us to extend a hand of compassion, just as he did throughout his ministry. The members of WBC sadly remain in the captivity of their own hatred.
The fact that Jesus asked us not to judge requires me not to judge Fred Phelps. It requires me not to desire picketers at his funeral. It requires me to pray that he has a change of heart, that he asks forgiveness, along with the people he influenced and caused to stumble along the way.
Heavenly Father, I pray for your son Fred Phelps. I lift him up to You before he suffers a permanent death. I pray that he sees You for who You are – a God who loves everyone, who calls all creation to Himself. I pray that his followers also become thirsty for You, Lord, and begin to ask forgiveness for their hatred. I pray they open their hearts to You one by one, that they experience Your love, grace and mercy in a way that fills them and changes them. I pray they offer this same love, grace and mercy to others as a reflection of their change and Your light in them.
I ask all who read this to pray this prayer.
I lift this prayer in love, in Jesus’ name.
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