A short time ago, Christian blogger, David, published a good post, “When Christians Act Ignorantly” (see here), about a sanctimonious restaurant customer who noticed the L*** rainbow tattoos on his waitress’ arm and not only declined to tip her, but also wrote a piously nasty little note on the check, “Can’t tip someone who doesn’t love Jesus. Bad tatoo (sic).”
Ach. Sometimes we Christians get way too big for our britches. None of us has one single plea of our own. Our righteousness is only the imputed perfect righteousness of the Savior, Jesus Christ! It would have been much wiser if the customer left a generous tip for the waitress along with a Gospel tract. Instead, the incident made the news and shrouded the Gospel in foolhardy sanctimoniousness.
It’s one thing to discuss sinful worldly agendas and false religions with other believers, but when we go out into the world we need to present Jesus Christ and the Gospel in a winsome way. As I read in my New Testament, Jesus Christ and the apostle Paul confronted sin, but reached out to individuals with the Good News! in an inviting way. Remember, by definition the Gospel is Good News!, not harsh, sanctimonious, holier-than-thou judgement.
This incident caused me to think of the Westboro Baptist Church based in Topeka, Kansas. Remember them? WBC was founded by Fred Phelps in 1955. Fred became such a vitriolic preacher that most of the congregants left, except for his own immediate and extended family members. Phelps and WBC began publicly protesting against homosexuality in 1989 because of indecent activity at a nearby public park. The church expanded its activity throughout the city of Topeka. Emboldened by the media coverage they received, the WBCers traveled around the country staging their protests. The WBCers infamously brought their hate signs to the funerals of U.S. servicemen, with messages such as “Thank God for Dead Soldiers,” “Death to Fags,” and God Hates Fags.”
As readers of this blog know, I’m not a fan of the L*** steamroller, but the WBC’s method was counter-productive. Phelps and followers brought dishonor to the Gospel. Every WBCer was/is a depraved sinner and would be in hell for eternity, just like any L*** crusader, except for the saving work of Jesus Christ. Some might respond offhand that the WBCers couldn’t possibly be genuinely saved. I don’t know about that. I have seen many Christians get drawn into political hate and conspiracy mongering.
Fred Phelps died in 2014 and the activities of WBC have seemed to have declined in recent years. Or maybe the news media is according them less or no coverage. Several younger members have left and taken very public stands against the church.
Before we get too sanctimoniously proud about our own “goodness,” “righteousness,” and “morality” we believers need to take a good, long look in God’s mirror, the Bible.
Postscript 1: We attended an IFB church in Rochester from 1983 until 1991. We left the church in part because we could no longer tolerate the pastor’s regular harangues against homosexuals. Thirty-years later, in 2021, the same pastor was arrested and convicted for sexually abusing two children.
Postscript 2: Don’t get the wrong impression. I’ve acted or thought like a sanctimonious jerk many times in my Christian walk.