The prophetic imagination of Fred Phelps and Westboro Baptist Church – #loveconquershate

prophetic imagination - 1When I’m trying to talk to my wife or oldest daughter and they’re watching TV, I usually have to say their full name boldly…sometimes kind of forcefully, even.  (When they’re in the zone, they’re in the zone.*)  If I have to, sometimes I approach them and touch their arm.  I would never do something like construct a sign to get their attention–they wouldn’t be able to hear it, let alone THAT WOULD BE WEIRD.  Nor would I begin to chant how awful they are because they can’t hear me.

Other people in our world think that making signs and spewing hate is the best way to get someone’s attention.  It does get attention, but for all the wrong reasons.  I’ll never be convinced that it’s the healthiest way–for either party.

How do you get someone’s attention, if you think that God really needs to get a message to them…and you are entrusted** with that message?

God commanded Ezekiel to lie naked on his right and left sides for a certain amount of time to represent how long Israel and Judah would be in exile.  He had Jeremiah put a yoke around his neck to represent the Babylonian empire’s future conquest of Israel and surrounding countries.  To demonstrate God’s radical love for Israel, Hosea was told to marry a prostitute and even had to purchase her back.  John the Baptist wore a suit of camels hair and ate bugs in the desert.  All of these crazy behaviors were designed to get people’s attention.

fred phelps 2And then the things they talked about!  They had some crazy things to say.  Sometimes they were laced with judgement and sometimes they were saturated with hope, but all of their prophetic communication pointed to one truth: God’s forgiveness for those who repent.

If your communication is not pointing to God’s love and forgiveness, whatever message you think God has entrusted you with is not of Christ.  If there isn’t hope for them to grasp at the end of a dialogue, you aren’t delivering the whole picture.

For that matter, if it’s not a dialogue in the first place, you probably shouldn’t be having the conversation!

What if Christ followers were more famous for how creative we shared about the love and forgiveness of Jesus, instead of how negative our message is portrayed?

That could change a whole lot of image problems Christ followers seem to have.  Maybe you and I can be a part of that solution?


*I consume (too much) media, lest you think I’m portraying myself as a pious Luddite.

**To be “entrusted” with a message for someone is not something I think we should take lightly.  I believe God raises us up to speak truth into each other’s lives, but that does not mean that every time we feel a pull to do so that it is from God.  I would never actually say that to someone, either.  Spiritual manipulation is too easy to fall into and adding a line like “God told me to tell you” into our communication can be just that.


About Brian Swanson

Christ follower. Screw up. Stained with grace. Ruined by Jesus.
This entry was posted in character, discipleship, faith, forgiveness, grace, love and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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