Monday, April 4, 2011

Rudy

Readers of Rantifestos,
I'm not sure how many of you have heard of the Westboro Baptist Church before, but if you haven't go to this page for more information than I have time to share. You would benefit from an awful example and perhaps realize how depravity sometimes presents itself as a wolf in sheep's clothing.

 I had heard the name briefly mentioned on a news program several years ago, but hadn't paid much attention to it or looked into exactly what they believed. I only knew that they were an extremist, hyper legalistic 'church' who created the website godhatesfags.com. That in of itself was shocking, but seemed self explanatory enough to not warrant further inquiry. Recently, however, several friends of mine shared stories with me that brought them to the forefront of my attention.

In looking into and thinking about this story, it's implications, and the doctrinal/theological aspects to it, the Lord has worked in my life. It is my prayer that He would do the same in yours through what I write. Please be praying for Rudy's family and those that knew him. Pray that God would continue to work through his example and that He might open new hearts and minds to the Gospel.






For Rudy, my brother in Christ who I'll see someday.




Rudy Acosta is with the Lord right now as I write and as you read. He is able to see Christ's face, able to look upon it with perfect joy, hearing the words "well done, my good and faithful servant" (Matthew 25:21). His faith has become sight, he no longer has to deal with his sin that clings so closely, he can look to Christ and Christ alone at last in glorious, perfected faith (Hebrews 12:1-2). What joy! 'Tis one of the most savory and joy-bringing apparent paradoxes that the Christian has no "guilt in life, no fear in death." We, as those redeemed by Christ, can't lose: if we die, we gain Christ, if we live, more Christ (Philippians 1:21)! Truly, all things work together for our good (Romans 8:28).

At the same time, it is undeniably tragic to lose a loved one, especially one so young and in circumstances so dire. The pain, the grief that Rudy's family and that those in similar situations go through is something I can't fathom. Yet while we mourn the loss of a loved one, it remains a mourning that has an end, a limit, a bottom. The dreary depth of despair is met with the boundless height of joy and love that the deceased saint now experiences in communion with Christ. It is this truth, and the expectant hope to one day rejoin the lost (for now) saint in heaven that sustains and empowers believers faced with tragic circumstances.

Who is this Rudy? Rudy Acosta attended Santa Clarita Christian School in Santa Clarita, California. He was a Christian first and foremost. He was a solider, son, friend, hero. My friend Elisa Adams, who knew Rudy personally and attended school with him, had this to say:

"He was a year ahead of me in school. I knew of him through jr. high and high school, but he became my friend through a couple school plays we were in together my sophomore and junior year. And almost more than anything else, I remember Rudy’s contagious smile. He was a friend to everyone, goofy, and always making someone laugh. But it is his love for the Lord, people, and his country which sets him apart. He willingly went into battle, recognizing it may cost him his life, because he valued the lives of others as more important. This truest kind of love made my friend a hero. And in the last two weeks, I have seen the power of God working through his death in incredible ways. People have given their lives to the Lord, a community has come together, and God’s Word has been spread. I cannot help but stand amazed at the impact one person can have when they are being used by God."


In reading about Rudy's life and seeing how highly people respected him, I felt like I got to know him. I learned that Rudy dreamed of being a doctor someday, a dream that I share. He saved lives as a medic in battle, earning a purple heart and bronze star. It was deeply humbling to see how the Lord chooses some to stay, and some to come home. What do I have in me that merits continued life? What do I have or have I done that merits being able to pursue a dream? Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. 'Tis the sweet grace and love of Christ that solely and entirely enables me. Just in writing this and in learning about Rudy, the Lord has worked a new urgency in my heart, an urgency that understands, even if only a little bit more than before, the value of life and its frailty.



Upon hearing from my friends how the Westboro Baptist Church planned to protest at Rudy's funeral, I was at a loss for words. Immediately, righteous indignation welled up within me and disgusting repulsion for such an act consumed my heart. While the actions of the WBC are decidedly worthy of such feelings, there is another tragedy that takes place alongside each funeral they protest at. It is a tragedy lived out around the world, every day and second, in many lives. 


This tragedy is the misunderstanding of the Gospel. To misunderstand and distort the single greatest news in history is a tragedy like no other. No other event, however seemingly tragic, has eternal consequences like it. These people are spreading a 'gospel' of hate, a gospel that is entirely inconsistent with Scripture. Yes, God is just. Yes, His Word speaks against things like homosexuality, murder, and all other sin enumerated in scripture. However, we are called to share the good news that Christ has taken these sins upon Himself for His chosen and beloved. 



Those at the Westboro Baptist Church are presuming to spread God's of their own accord. While God does indeed use people to carry out His judgement from time to time (Sodom and Gomorrah, Jonah, etc. etc.), these people are directed by God's will and word (which are one) to do as He pleases. They never pass the judgement themselves, but are merely instruments for judgements. Paul's letter to the Roman's speaks very harshly of those who presume to judge as God does (Romans 2:1). Indeed, it is quite a pretentious and presumptuous sin to equate one's authority and capacity to judge with that of the God of the universe.




All that to say, while it is infuriating to hear some of the things; no, all of the things that those at the Westboro Baptist Church think and do, it is truly and deeply tragic that they have missed the truth and joy of the Gospel. While we might so not easily fall to protesting at funerals, we can very easily misunderstand or misinterpret the Gospel. In the words of Paul, may it never be so!




In Rudy's last phone message he told his family "‘I think about you and everybody at home. I love you all very much, and I will be home soon.’" Rudy is indeed at home. Blessedly, peacefully, joyously, and gloriously home at last. Free from sin of all sorts, and despite what those at the WBC say, he died a hero and remains one in my heart and in the hearts of countless others. What they mean for evil, God works for good...
Genesis 50:20:
"20 As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today."


longing for heaven,


Mark

2 comments:

  1. I am so thankful for your post, Mark. It's a huge testimony, I think, of Rudy's life that even those who didn't know him are impacted by his story. I'm anxious to meet him in glory as well!
    And we can only pray for the WBC as they continue to wail out on our country's heroes and their devastated families. I pray that the Lord might open their eyes one day to the depravity of their message and that their children might be spared such a hateful ideology and hear the truth of God's Word.

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  2. Thank you for your words, they are very encouraging and put our focus where it belongs. I knew Rudy, he was one of my kids' best friends and he was everything said here and more. We didn't fully appreciate just how courageous he was, and how focused on serving others he was, until he went to be with the Lord. I know that for me (a middle-aged adult), I have never had such courage. He has inspired me to do more, to be more, and to focus my love upon the lost - to never stop reaching out and connecting with more people in the world, with the Word. We loved him, we love him still, and anticipate a wonderful reunion with him in heaven. May every person whose heart is hurting from his loss be able to be comforted by his gain - a mansion in heaven with our loving father. Thanks again.

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