Monday, November 02, 2009

Painesville's Recent Loss

Those not from the immediate area may not know that one of Painesville's young Marines, Lance Cpl. David Baker, recently gave his life for the sake of freedom in Afghanistan. The funeral was held within walking distance of my home at the Zion Lutheran Church. I was unable to attend due to other obligations, but I'm sure it was a solemn testament to this young man's selfless actions for the people of Afghanistan.

Unfortunately, news of his sacrifice was eclipsed by the possibility of Fred Phelps also attending the funeral. Phelps is a pastor who uses military funerals as a chance to protest the sin of homosexuality in America. According to one report, Phelps and his church believe that the death of American soldiers is God's judgment against homosexuality in the US. He and his "troops" feel duty bound to proclaim this message despite the inappropriateness of their timing.

Thankfully, Mr. Phelps didn't make it to the funeral. But with the possibility looming, several of our local pastors prepared for him by writing a public letter to the newspaper. The letter contrasts Mr. Phelp's tactics with a "speaking the truth in love" approach. As you will see, the letter doesn't negate the problem of sin in America. Instead, it points to the Cross of Jesus as the answer to man's sin problem.


Honor the soldier and tell the truth

Yesterday Fred Phelps and primarily his immediate family (ostensibly known as Westside Baptist Church) descended on Lake County to protest at the funeral of our hero, Lance Cpl. David Baker. It is a travesty of decency that this so-called pastor would ruin a family’s remembrance of their American soldier by connecting his honorable death to an unchristian hatred of homosexuals. Furthermore, as pastors in Lake County we find it a travesty of theology that the chants of bigots would drown out the hope of the Scriptures.

The problem with yesterday’s protest lies both in its vitriolic tone and its inaccurate content. God has punished and will punish nations for innumerable sins besides homosexuality—greed, disrespect for parents, extra-marital sex, lying, laziness, arrogance, drunkenness, and many others. God prohibits these self-centered behaviors because they ruin the world He created and destroy the love people should show to each other. Not all are guilty of all of these, but all of us are guilty of at least one.

Scripture is full of examples of God’s fair judgment on people for these sins. This is His world, and He is wise enough to make the rules. But Scripture is also full of promises by God to forgive those individuals and nations who would repent of sin and believe in His mercy. Now is the time of God’s mercy.

In unspeakable mercy God the Father chose not to leave humanity on a path to self-destruction. He demonstrated mercy when He sent His Son Jesus to our planet on a mission—live a perfect life so that He could die in our place on the cross, rise from the grave so that those who believe would be free from sin and its effects. The God who makes the rules and sentences the guilty is also the Rescuer and Savior! One portion of Scripture sums it up beautifully, “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Because all humans bear the image of God all human life has intrinsic value, and this is why Lance Cpl. Baker’s death is a tragedy. God never intended life to end in this way! There is no reason for that tragedy to be compounded by an erroneous, disrespectful protest.

The solution is not screaming about sin. The solution is rejecting sin because of believing in the Cross. That—and undying gratitude to veterans like Lance Cpl. Baker—is a message that should be shouted from a bullhorn.

Pastor Chris Anderson

Tri-County Bible Church, Madison

Pastor Jim Lane
Faith Baptist Church, Perry

Pastor Doug Browning

Kirtland Bethel Bible Church, Kirtland

Pastor Tim Potter
Grace Church of Mentor, Mentor

Pastor Stoney Drain

Painesville Baptist Church, Painesville

Pastor Josh Scheiderer

Bible Community Church, Mentor

Pastor Kent Hobi

Grace Church of Mentor, Mentor

Pastor Ray Strimpel

Faith Baptist Church, Perry

Pastor Bob Ladygo

Bible Baptist Church, Madison

Pastor Joe Tyrpak
Tri-County Bible Church, Madison

1 comment:

EggsnGrits said...

Works for me. Agreed.

Even though the Bible does seem to be a bit more vigorous with the sin of homosexuality, sin is sin.

Additionally, even if certain events are a "punishment" for a specific sin, the only way out is God's way, and God doesn't call us to be rabble rousing bundles of condemnation.