Where do You See Jesus? Contrasting Responses to PA Shooting
- Friday, October 06, 2006
I have had several people write to me and ask me to address the group of people in Kansas that pickets the funerals of fallen soldiers. I have hesitated to respond for two reasons. One, I do not wish to give this group any more exposure. Two, I always try to be gentle in my admonishment when I disagree with the views or actions of others. I cannot do that in this case.
The group reached a despicable new low this week when they threatened to picket the funerals of those precious children who were killed in Pennsylvania. Cybercast News Service reported their "reasoning" for picketing the funerals (see full story):
The Westboro group says the Amish school girls were "killed by a madman in punishment for Gov. Ed Rendell's blasphemous sins against Westboro Baptist Church.
"Gov. Ed Rendell -- speaking and acting in his official capacity to bind the State of Pennsylvania -- slandered and mocked and ridiculed and condemned Westboro Baptist Church on national Fox TV," the group says on its website. Later in the story the group is quoted as saying that they are "continuing to pray for even worse punishment upon Pennsylvania."
Their rhetoric and actions make me physically ill. Seriously. My stomach hurts as I read this stuff. Perhaps one clue about the group is that I have to pick up their quotes from news stories. My filtering software (developed for Christian parents) blocks their website as hate speech. I would be concerned if Christian software blocked my website. So I suppose the group will now pray for punishment on me for condemning them. Whatever.
It did cause me to examine what a more reliable source said about who is to blame when horrible things happen in life.
Jesus was asked about some tragedies that had occurred and it is interesting to note that He did not establish blame.
About this time Jesus was informed that Pilate had murdered some people from Galilee as they were sacrificing at the Temple in Jerusalem. "Do you think those Galileans were worse sinners than other people from Galilee?" he asked. "Is that why they suffered? Not at all! And you will also perish unless you turn from your evil ways and turn to God. And what about the eighteen men who died when the Tower of Siloam fell on them? Were they the worst sinners in Jerusalem? No, and I tell you again that unless you repent, you will also perish. (Luke 13, NLT)
If Jesus had a chance to establish blame and did not do it, then I am pretty sure that this Kansas group cannot decipher where His judgement might fall. Jesus did call for repentance as individuals. But He did not tie their spiritual condition to the tragedies that happen in life.
Jesus reserved His harshest condemnation for the religious. This group's ranking of one sin as being God's number one reason for retribution is unsettling. Would He be more likely to judge the Christians in my city of Dallas for their materialism and greed? How can I know? Perhaps a Holy God is more upset in how we (His followers) have squandered great wealth than in how some behave in their private lives. Is neglecting the widows and the poor less egregious to God than a parade in San Francisco? I am not smart enough to know. But Scripture seems pretty clear we should be taking care of those in need both physically and spiritually. And that we should love sinners as we show them grace and truth mixed together.
There was another time when Jesus could have let us know how judgment is dispensed here on earth:
Walking down the street, Jesus saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked, "Rabbi, who sinned: this man or his parents, causing him to be born blind?" Jesus said, "You're asking the wrong question. You're looking for someone to blame. There is no such cause-effect here. Look instead for what God can do. (John 9, The Message)
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