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My Encounter with a Street Preacher

Yesterday, while I was enjoying a cup of coffee in downtown Greenville, I took a scroll down my Twitter news feed.  As I scrolled, I laughed, I became informed, and then all of a sudden I was filled with rage as I read the words: Street Preacher.  But, it got even better; this street preacher was only minutes from where I sat, and I was not going to miss this opportunity.  I quickly packed up my things and headed over to the said location of this preacher.  My mind was running at an incredible pace.  Confrontation was bound to happen.  I pictured the preacher announcing judgement and the law with a complete void of grace and forgiveness, but this wasn’t the case.

As I rounded the corner I saw one of my classmates.  There stood one of my brothers in Christ, who encourages me weekly in class, and he wasn’t preaching the law… he was preaching grace!  And just as I expected, confrontation did happen, but it was between myself and the street preacher.  No, the confrontation that occurred was between me and the Lord as I was convicted of the self-righteousness in my own heart.  It broke me, as I had to once again evaluate my own heart.  Below are my reflections on my encounter with a street preacher.

We Critique the Mission and not the Message

My mind has always been set against street preachers.  Much of this is probably because of past experience, as well as the bad reputation that they carry among non-believers.  Too many times I have heard street preachers proclaim the law with no mention of grace.  I’ve heard several street sermons announce that God hates sinners, and it turned me off to street preaching all together.  However, I failed to see the true problem.  The problem isn’t street preaching.  My classmate had been called by the Holy Spirit to evangelize through street preaching, and the Spirit never calls us to do something that is evil.

No, the problem has never been street preaching.  The problem has always been the message delivered by most street preachers.  The reason so many people hate this style of evangelism is because most of the time it isn’t evangelism… it’s condemnation.  Most street-side sermons are focused on the sinner and not the Savior.  But, we shouldn’t allow the ones who are doing it wrong to keep us from supporting the ones who are doing it right.  The problem is not the mission, it’s the message.

But, Street Preaching is Offensive

Yes, it is.  But, isn’t the gospel offensive as well?  Christ spoke to His disciples in Matthew 10:21-23 and said, “Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death, and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next, for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.”  Why then should we expect anything different now?  The gospel of Jesus Christ is offensive whether you preach to the masses on a street corner, or if you have a one on one discussion in a coffee shop.  We must not criticize our brothers and sisters in Christ for their evangelism tactics just because we have been called to preach the gospel in a different fashion.

There Must be Better Ways to Evangelize

There probably are better ways.  However, it is not our place to stop someone from preaching in the streets, by doing so we can easily fall into the sin of hindering the work of the Spirit.  Romans 10 says that no-one can call upon the name of the Lord if the gospel has never been preached to them.  So, Paul writes, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the Good News!”  If scripture commends the work of faithful street preachers, then who am I to condemn it?

Let us become more concerned with the spreading of the gospel, and less concerned with the methods that are used to spread it.

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Posted by on February 17, 2014 in Christianity, Religion, Uncategorized

 

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Selfless Sacrifice

I recently read a post on Twitter that said, “Don’t sacrifice your time for people who wouldn’t do the same for you.”  The sadness of this statement overwhelmed me.  It was not only the statement that saddened me, but also the obvious truth that it spoke to the condition of my heart.  In reflection of this, the Lord put three simple truths on my heart that I wish to share with you.

1. Jesus Sacrificed Everything

“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.” – 2 Corinthians 8:9

Much of the time, when we think about Christ’s sacrifice, we think immediately about the cross.  This is a good thought, and do not wish to condemn it, but I do want us to look at Christ’s sacrifice from another angle as well. See, Jesus Christ’s sacrifice did not start when he was crucified, rather it started when he took on flesh.  Christ gave up equality with God (Phil. 2:6) so that he could make us identify with us (Heb. 4:15).

We see this presented so clearly in the verse from 2nd Corinthians mentioned above.  For a short time, Jesus gave up the richness of his glory and became poor, and he did this so that we, who are poor, could one day share in the richness of the glory of God.

This same idea is also seen in Christ’s sacrifice on the cross.  For all eternity Jesus had experienced the joy of fellowship with God the Father.  But, on Calvary, Jesus gave up that joy and took on the wrath of God.  Although Jesus was rich with the joy of the Father, he chose to become poor, so that we, who are poor, might one day share in the richness of the joy of God.

2. We are called to follow Jesus

Many people, including myself for a time, think that following Jesus simply means to believe and have faith.  But, I’m not so sure if that does justice to what Jesus meant when he told his disciples, “Follow me.”  For this section I wish to explore a conversation between Jesus and Peter recorded at the end of John’s gospel.

“Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go. (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.” – John 21:18-19

To be quite honest, this passage of scripture startles me, and I’m sure it startles some of you as well.  Christ tells Peter that he is going to die a martyrs death.  Also, Peter is given no reason to why he must die this way, rather he is simply instructed, “Follow me.”  Likewise, Christ calls us to follow him, and to follow no matter what the cost!  The price that Peter paid was his life, and Jesus has called you to do the same.  We may not be called to die a martyr’s death, but we are called to take up our cross (Matt. 16:24) and die to self.  This is our sacrifice to Christ.

“Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” – Matthew 10:39

3. We are called to sacrifice ourselves of others

“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.” – Philippians 2:3-7

Part of following Jesus is striving to resemble is characteristics.  One of those qualities was Christ’s humility.  Even though Jesus Christ was God, he didn’t consider equality with God as something to be grasped!  Jesus lowered himself from his rightful position to serve us.

With that in mind we should strive to serve others.  We should count others as more significant than ourselves, and we should sacrifice for them.  We should sacrifice our time, our love, and our lives for the interests of others.  And we should do it because Christ did the same for us.  We were a people that would have never sacrificed our time for Christ, yet Christ sacrificed his life for us!

 
 

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