It has only been a week since traveling “preacher” Chris LePelley’s visit, and the dust is just beginning to settle.
Amidst the firestorm of video, Facebook and blog posts, I have seen countless questions about how to view this traveling preacher who preached hate, legalism and judgment.
I expect almost all rejected his message, but understanding why we should reject him is key.
This is where we must strip the sheep’s clothing from the back of this wolf.
First, like David Maddaloni, senior graphic arts major from Elba, rightly pointed out in his counter-protest sign, “Carrying a Bible doesn’t make you a good Christian.”
I would add that carrying a Bible and memorizing Scripture doesn’t even make you a Christian, period.
Though this man, a so-called “preacher,” could quote Scripture at length, this doesn’t actually mean much at all.
Even Satan can quote the Bible at length and do so in a non-biblical way (Matthew 4:5-7).
The words don’t make the message. Relationship makes the message.
This is the core of Christianity: a relationship with Jesus Christ.
It is through relationship that any of His words can be understood.
Misquotation is the manipulator’s best weapon. Context and relationship is the best defense.
The man spoke of impending judgment and pointed out, at length, the categories of sinners that surrounded him.
He was quick to judge those around him for the sins that he assumed he knew.
The student who spoke against him was a false prophet, doomed for judgment.
The student who had a nose ring was doomed for judgment, though she said nothing.
Ironically, the student with a tattoo was doomed before he spoke, even though his tattoo was the Greek word for “saved.”
LePelley was quick to do that which Jesus did not even do.
When Jesus came to earth, he himself said he did not come to judge the world but to save it (John 3:17).
Jesus desired to see no man perish or be judged (2 Peter 3:9).
Jesus even loved us enough to be the substitution for the judgment we faced (1 Peter 2:24).
Doesn’t exactly sound like LePelley, does it?
What is present with Jesus and missing with LePelley is love.
True love for those who need it most.
Love desires the best for others.
As startling as it may sound, love even hates at time.
Love hates those things that destroy us, take us captive and master us.
Love hates murder because it destroys life.
Love hates lies for it destroys trust. Love hates adultery because it destroys relationships.
Would we not hate the bottle if we saw alcohol destroy the life of a dear friend?
It is our love for that person that drives us to hate.
We do not and cannot hate people.
We, as Christians, hate sin, but because it leads to pain and separation: emotionally, physically, psychologically and spiritually.
As Christians, we should be known for our unconditional love for sinners and saints, but we can only truly love if we allow ourselves to hate.
Love should guide our words.
I realized a couple years ago that showing love is much more important than being right.
Truth is important, but, without love, truth is impotent (1 Corinthians 13:1-2).
Christians, love and let your love be guided by truth.
And for those who may not call themselves Christians, remember the words of John 13:35: “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”