Points to Ponder: Is Westboro Baptist Church a sign of the times?

Points to Ponder
Is Westboro Baptist Church a sign of the times?

"But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived" (II Timothy 3:13).
On October 5th, I stood among the "counter-protestors" who came to gather in opposition to the Kansas church known for its hatred of homosexuals and anyone who supports or even tolerates them. They claim to be preaching God's message of judgment against our nation because of homosexuality.
There were only about seven adults, and (sadly) two children, from the Kansas group. They held up signs declaring God's hatred for and His judgment of sin, specifically in the form of homosexual practice. Their blatant hate speech and signage seemed to unite the 175 or so people on the opposing side. Gays and straight, those who advocate for same sex marriage alongside of those who oppose it, there was unity on behalf of the "loving God" image versus the hateful, vengeful God image being portrayed across from us.
Each side had an element of truth, which was being exaggerated. As much as many people - even clergy - don't preach on it, there is a hell. Jesus spoke more about hell than He did about heaven. There is a judgment, which everyone (on both sides of the street) will face.
"It is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment" (Hebrews 9:27).
The Bible speaks of the judgment seat of Christ (II Corinthians 5:10) before which Christians will be judged for their works; how they lived their faith. Then there is the Great White Throne judgment before which the unbelievers will stand (Rev. 20:11). Jesus speaks of a narrow road to eternal life, and the broader road, which leads to destruction. Most will choose the latter.
"Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it" (Matthew 7:14).
So those who dismiss the idea of judgment and hell because God is a "loving God" who loves everybody no matter what they do or believe, are deceived. Jesus Christ came to provide the way of salvation from destruction and death.
However, the Westboro folks are also greatly deceived. No true prophet of God spoke God's word of judgment against any nation with a smile and celebration. I watched these people dance on the American flag, chant happy songs of judgment, death, and destruction with big smiles; they seemed to enjoy the taste of their words. Read Jeremiah, Isaiah, or any prophet; they mourned and wept over their people. When I saw Westboro had two little boys (8 years old or so) holding those signs, I was sad for them. I hoped that the loving messages from some on our side of the street, were reaching them. I saw the danger coming upon Westboro and others like them:
"But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world because of offenses! For offenses must come, but woe to that man by whom the offense comes! (Matthew 18:6-7).
Little ones are the children as well as anyone young in their faith. What scars will these children bear? But also, how many people will use this blasphemous example of a "church" and judge all churches as judgmental? Some will find in these bad examples an excuse to justify their own sin and hypocrisy; for they are just as judgmental themselves.
Rev. Fred Phelps and his Kansas group are deceived and being deceived, thinking their actions are of God. According to James 4:11, they actually "speak evil of the law" by handling God's word as they do. Eugene Peterson's paraphrase sums it up well.
"Don't bad-mouth each other, friends. It's God's Word, his Message, his Royal Rule, that takes a beating in that kind of talk. You're supposed to be honoring the Message, not writing graffiti all over it. God is in charge of deciding human destiny. Who do you think you are to meddle in the destiny of others?" (James 4:11-12 from The Message)

Points to Ponder is a series of occasional articles written by Rev. Dennis Whitmore, Pastor of Hilltop Christian Fellowship, 12624 Trinity Church Drive, Clear Spring, MD (1/4 mile east of Clear Spring on Rt. 40). Listen to Pastor Dennis on WJEJ-1240 AM, Tues and Thurs, at 10:45am and 7:50pm, both days). www.hilltopchristianfellowship.com.