I’m not sure what it was, though I have some ideas.
Actor Heath Ledger died recently. He was only 28. As is bound to happen in our celebrity-obsessed culture, his untimely death has become round-the-clock news. I feel a touch of vertigo when I consider the unknown but no less loved men, women, and children who die every day—some from malnutrition, some from preventable disease, some from violence and war. All untimely deaths are tragic, and I am glad, really, that I don’t have to read or know about them all. I would be overwhelmed by death.
Still, Mr. Ledger’s death is likewise tragic. Even if Jesus welcomed him into heaven, it is tragic for the family and friends he has left behind. I think Jesus would weep with them for their grief, for their loss. He would want to comfort and encourage them, show them kindness and love, send them flowers and bake them cookies, eat with them, grieve with them, weep with them.
Not so some who have taken his name. Members of the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas, plan to picket Mr. Ledger’s funeral. They plan to spread hatred and lies in Jesus’ name. They plan to disdain the grief of Mr. Ledger’s family and friends, denounce his life, and callously make use of his death as an occasion for furthering their own perverse agenda. Nothing could be further from the love of Jesus Christ.
Let no one dare consider their actions Christian; they are wicked and hypocritical. By their actions, they exchange the glory of the one they call their Lord for fleeting infamy and self-martyrdom. Jesus spoke of such people when he said, “They have their reward.” Perhaps for them, too, he weeps.