I find it interesting sometimes, when people are reluctant to listen to us when we are preaching the Gospel. Occasionally, there will be accusations, like being a 'Gay basher' or even just being judgmental. But why do we think such things? Is there any veracity to such accusations?
I remember as we would go to a little town called, 'Interlachen' there would be a billboard situated in the direction of facing the street as it was coming to the stop sign. It had verses on it like the section out of Romans 1 where God will judge homosexuals. The sign wasn't very grace filled, yet there was some truth on it. Something just seemed off though, and I could never figure out what it was. It resembled something that would have been designed by Westboro, but it wasn't.
One day, while out sharing the Gospel, an older woman was sitting on a bench. I offered her a tract, and she asked me what it was, so I told her it was a Gospel tract. She was irate. She accused me of judging her, and told me that God was going to judge me for what I was doing. Hmm. I thought I was doing what the Bible says to do, from my heart. What was wrong with this picture?
Years ago, when my mother was young, the Jehovah's Witnesses used to come around banging on doors. When you let them in, they would try to manipulate you to join their group. The reason they want a person to join their group is because they have a religion that consists of doing good works. I guess if you are a really good person in their religion, maybe you can be one of the Elite, or at least you can get into the other general heaven they believe in. A person's conversion to their group adds Brownie points, so to speak.
Perhaps the thing that makes Christians look like Westboro is the way the Gospel is communicated by Open Air workers. Open Air workers use microphones to amplify their voices so they can be heard by everyone in large crowds or gatherings. Some also hold up signs that tell people to repent. That action is probably the closest thing to looking like Westboro.
I am not against people using microphones or even holding up signs while doing evangelism, but at the same time, we have to realize that our message is not the same as the message of Westboro. Fred Phelps, who started Westboro (at least the way it became) claimed to be Primitive Baptist, but functionally, Fred Phelps was Peleagian. Pelagians take their teachings from a 4th century heretic called Pelagius, who believed that human beings are not born with a sinful inclination, but choose to sin. They believe that whenever a person sins, it is because he or she chose to sin, not because he or she was tempted to sin and fell into it due to the sinful flesh, which loves to sin. They also have an outer view of sin, meaning that sin consists of the things we do, not who we are. So, while they are preaching against a particular type of sin, such as homosexuality, they would see homosexuality as the sin that human beings commit. What they don't understand, is that in their hearts, they have pride, greed, envy, hatred, sexual temptations, lust, desire for power, desire for control, strife, idolatry, self-centeredness, and the list goes on. But why do they not see these things as sin?
The Bible never says 'You shall not be proud', but it tells us to be humble, and if we are proud, God will resist us. The Bible doesn't say, 'You shall not be self-centered', yet the theme of self-centeredness is all throughout the Bible. So, in essence, they are sticking with the 10 Commandments, and some verses out of Leviticus that spell out what we are not to do, and they think that they are doing all of what the law requires. But are they?
In the Old Testament, there are two commands. Both of these commands are the underlying commands for the 10 Commandments, and any other law God gives. One command says to love God with all our hearts, minds, souls, and strength. I doubt if anyone is able to do that commandment, unless God enables him or her to. The other commandment says to love our neighbor as ourselves. If we do these commandments, then we will keep all the rest, because keeping the commandments is a heart issue, not an outward appearance issue.
Do you think that those who work with Westboro really love God and other people? If they do, then why are they not preaching the hope of the Gospel instead of telling people that they are doomed to hell? Westboro is just another religion, among many others, but it is a religion based upon hate instead of love.
In the New Testament, Jesus gives a new command, even though it is an old command from the Old Testament. It is to love one another. People watching us and looking on will know that we are Christians by our love for one another, and our love for other people. The problem with us is that we don't know what love is, and we don't have a proper definition of love, so, when it comes to 'loving God', or 'loving others', we think we are already doing it, but we probably aren't. But we can, because once we experience God's love for us, we can give it to others. We are freely loved, and we can freely love others.
The Bible tells us that the Apostle Paul was constrained by the love of Christ. He was controlled by God's love. The is the normal life for a Christian. Reading through 1 John, you can see how strong God's love is for us, and in turn, our love for one another. We are to love strangers, enemies, others in the body of Christ, children, spouses, God, and many other things. But there is something that we are not to love.
We are not to love sin, nor should we love the devil and his angels. By default, we love sin, because we are born sinners. When we are born again, we have a new heart that can't sin, and that new heart is filled with the love of God. Now we become complex beings because we can still live out of our sinful nature, and we can also live out the new nature, with a new heart, by the power of God. God's word instructs us to 'put to death' the sins of the flesh. We are to put on the 'new'. God's love is in our hearts, yet, if we choose to live out our sinful heart's desires, God's love will not be manifest. We are the ones who will suffer and God's name will be tarnished.
The Bible tells us that 'by their fruits you will know them'. If you go out today and see a person using a microphone preaching the Gospel message, you will not know necessarily what the fruit of this person's life is, or his motives for preaching. But if a person is out there calling names to people, and being condescending, you can be sure that this person does not understand the love of God yet. Only when we see the seriousness of our own sin, will we appreciate the Cross. If we don't see the seriousness of our own sins, we will become like those of Westboro and will misrepresent the God of the Bible.
Sure, there are Christians who look like jerks when they are preaching the Gospel. That's bound to happen. But then, how should we look at the commands in the Bible concerning evangelism? Should we dump the idea because there are similarities between evangelists and those of Westboro?
Things to keep in mind:
1. Jesus commanded His disciples to preach the Gospel to every creature (Mark 16:15)
2. True believers in Jesus Christ have new hearts, yet still have the capability to sin and to misrepresent God.
3. The Bible tells us that true believers in Jesus Christ will be marked by God's love.
4. Westboro does not represent the true God. Westboro represents and false god of hatred and hopelessness.
5. Westboro is very contradictory. Unless they are preaching a message of hope for people to change, there is no purpose for them preaching at all. There is no reason to preach a message of doom, unless there is a way of hope.
6. True believers in Jesus Christ will not look like Westboro, although they may have flaws in their lives.
7. Always look to the Bible for the Standard, not people. People do not measure up to the Standard, and are in need of a Savior.
8. Once a person comes to know the Lord, he or she begins the lifelong process of sanctification. That moment is the beginning of new life, not the end of his or her story. No one arrives while living on this side of eternity.