Fred Phelps was wrong to judge others.
We are wrong to judge him.
We are – and he was – free to have opinions.
My opinion is that he was warped, mean spirited and abusive.
That’s my opinion.
But the judging?
Not my job.
I have seen a number of articles and blog posts regarding his illness and now his death.
They tend to fall into a couple of distinct categories:
- Yay and good riddance
- God loves even Fred Phelps
In my heart, I agree with both of these to some degree.
(1) He hurt a lot of people, so I am glad that behavior has come to an end.
(2) God is full of grace and he offers it freely.
Even Fred Phelps.
There is speculation about what Fred Phelps might be experiencing or learning in the afterlife.
Is he having an “aha” moment and grasping the error of his ways?
Is he accepting God’s loving grace?
Here’s what I think.
God’s grace is freely given.
But he doesn’t force us to accept it.
It’s quite possible that God is offering it, but Fred Phelps isn’t buying it.
Or maybe he is.
We don’t know.
It’s not our place to know.
It’s not our place to judge.
But it is our place to examine our own heart and motivations and actions and ask ourselves if we are making the most of the days we have been given.
When it is our turn and the grace is freely offered, will we embrace it or reject it?
And the kicker?
We don’t have to wait until our dying breath to decide.
The grace is freely offered and given.
As our pastor says, “No matter who you are, or where you have been, or what you have done…you are always welcome in the loving embrace of God our Father.”