So the Westboro BC folks never showed up. Apparently they do that a lot. So, beyond the fact that they are hateful they are also liars (remember Jn.8:44). Their shenanigans did provide an opportunity for us to join over 1,000 students (see the story here) and to set the record straight about God's love for them. Our signs said things like, "God hates hate," "Jesus loves you" and "Jesus is the only way" and carrying those resulted in numerous conversations about Jesus. Pastor Dwight Saunders (our pastor !!!) was even invited to address the crowd. I didn't get the whole thing on video but what I managed to record is posted below. He was able to say that even though we have some disagreements, we are called first and foremost to love each other. He clearly told the crowd of God's love and our love for them and quoted 1Jn.4:20 - "If anyone says, "I love God," yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen."
Tolerance isn't pretending we're all the same and everything is OK but rather admitting we're different and have disagreements but loving each other regardless of those. Interestingly, and I say this only to offer some food for thought, I've been receiving hate mail and public criticism for my faith on this campus as have some of our students and even though we've communicated that to different officials we haven't so much as had a phone call or e-mail returned. It is peculiar to me that the tolerance issue seems to only go one way. That being said, of course I support standing against hate like we did yesterday, I just find it awkward a lot of other people won't stand against it when it is directed at Christians (Jn.15:18-25).
My favorite part about yesterday was that 7 pastors and several other Christian leaders joined each other to share Christ with our community. You probably remember the standing together as one post from August. This was just another continuation of that. As all of these leaders pray together every week we are also becoming a team willing to reach our community together and that was the highlight of the day for me.
What an opportunity this was to share Christ in a public and very visible way and to clarify that God doesn't hate these people but loves each of them and desires a relationship with them. I would encourage you to take advantage of opportunities like these in your communities as well. Jesus didn't run from sinners but rather met with them, spent time with them, ate with them and sought them out, never backing down from the truth but always doing that in an authentically loving way with arms wide open. We should do the same!!! This world is a hateful place but Jesus and only Jesus, has all the answers; in Him there is no more hate.
I found the full video of Dwight posted here: