Love your enemies

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"You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters,[o] what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

- Matthew 5:43-48, NRSV
I have not followed this instruction well. I have mocked those who persecuted me. In doing so, I did to them as I accused them of doing to me. That's not how the Golden Rule works.

The experience of many is that Westboro Baptist Church says horrible things in sensitive contexts. The response of often ridicule of WBC and their members.

But I'm not judging what others do: I'm judging what I do.

I accused WBC of not getting to know me. I accused WBC of hate. But I've done the same to WBC, and for that, I am very sorry.

I never met anyone from WBC, but I judged their motives and their actions. I thought I knew what was in their hearts, just as they claim to know what's in mine.

I was wrong.

Megan Phelps-Roper and her sister Grace have left WBC, and are talking a little about what they believed, and the process they are currently going through.

The pain they must be feeling grieves me.

It seems like a lifetime ago that I was in the Evangelical Free church. No, it wasn't as harsh as WBC, but there were some judgmental ideas, and I was a part of them. Over the years, I grew away from the church and had to completely reformulate my ideas of the eternal, of sin, of salvation, of love, and of how we treat each other.

And, somewhere along the way, I forgot how hard it is to see things differently when those close to me believe the same. I forgot about how hard it is to break ties with family, church, and friends. I forgot how the church can become an entire world - and my church was not nearly as closed as WBC.

I failed to love my enemies and to pray for those who persecuted me. I failed to see them as humans, like me. I failed to see them as people of faith, like me. I failed to see them as followers of Jesus, like me.

Members of the Westboro Baptist Church:I am sorry for mocking you. I did not treat you the way I would want to be treated. I was wrong.

Megan and Grace, I am sorry for the way I have treated you. I grieve for the pain you are feeling now. I hope that, with time, you will find a way to reconcile your faith, and to find a community that supports and loves you. I pray that you will be reconciled with your family.

God richly bless you, my sisters in Christ.

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