Week 2: Friday
- Psalm 86:1–17
- Matthew 5:38–48
- 1 John 2:7–21
Questions to Consider
- What is hate?
- Where does hate come from? How do we typically respond to hate?
- How do you believe prayer helps transform your hate into love?
- How does Jesus help us to respond to hate with love?
Plan of Action
- Start praying for someone you have feelings of hatred or disgust towards.
- Share with another person about the unconditional love of Jesus.
- Repent of your own hatred and lack of love towards others.
Fred Phelps was the founder of Westboro Baptist Church. This church is known for picketing the funerals of dead soldiers. Their message is one of hate. It leaves us to wonder how they could ever consider themselves a church.
When Fred Phelps died, many people celebrated his death. It is easy to join in. Just as this man protested the funerals of so many others, there is a part of us that have liked to have done the same to his. But to have done so would have shown that we are not that much different.
Jesus does not call us to respond to hate with hate. Hatred will destroy us. It will grip us, pull us, and lead us away from Jesus.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’” Matthew 5:43 (ESV)
Hate your enemy! This is the way of the world. This is how the world responds to Fred Phelps. But Jesus goes on to say:
“But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” Matthew 5:44–45 (ESV)
This is not easy to do. We can only do this when we are empowered by the love of Jesus. Jesus says to pray for those who persecute you. That is a revolutionary thought. It goes against every natural urge we have.
Prayer has a way of changing the way we think about other people. It’s hard to pray for someone and still be hateful towards them. When we start to pray for someone, our hate begins to turn to grief. We grieve over the darkness of their soul. We grieve over the emptiness of their lives. We grieve they miss out on the love of Jesus.
I imagine Fred did not experience much joy in his life. When you are filled with so much hate, there is little room for love. I imagine Fred’s life was a very sad life. Even more saddening is that it seems Fred did not know the God of the Bible and the saving grace Jesus offers for sinners. Living apart from God’s saving grace leads to an eternity of misery and suffering.
Jesus calls us to live in a different way. This does not mean we honor Fred in his death. We might rejoice in his death, but we will not gloat in his death.
It is ever more important we respond with the love of God and live the love of God. There are other “Fred Phelps” out there who preach hatred in the name of God. If we stay silent about the love of God, how will they ever know anything different.
Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
It’s time to shine the light!