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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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The Church, Christians, and the Crucifixion of the Gospel

Over the past several months I have seen debate after debate about sin on social media.  I have sat through discussions that lasted for hours, arguing what sin is and what sin isn’t.  And I’m not casting stones, I have involved myself in such conversation, but now I’m drawing the line.  I am done.  Screw all the sin debates.  Screw what you think about homosexuality.  Screw what you think about alcohol use.  Screw what you think a “Christian” looks like.

Maybe, just maybe, we’ve missed the point.  Maybe the point of following Jesus isn’t to debate sin.  Maybe the point of being a Christian isn’t to judge the un-believer.  Maybe the point of going to church isn’t to learn a moral code.  What if everything that the Christian life entails is actually in opposition to all of those things?  What if Jesus doesn’t care how someone became “gay”?  What if sin debates actually destroy the Church instead of building it up?

“Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.”  Jesus’ words in John, chapter 8 are a stark reminder to the one who listens.  Possibly, one of the most important things that Christians today need to be reminded of is that no-one is without sin.

God’s Holiness

However, I think that in this time of such great controversy and debate, what we really need to be reminded of is Who God is.  God is the Creator of everything (Gen. 1:1).  God is King of all of His creation (Psalm 47:7).  God is Lord over all all, and the earth is full of His Glory (Isa 6:3; Rev 5:13).  This God is free from sin, holy, and perfect.  His glory fills the sky, and causes the angels to sing unending worship.  The God of Christianity was so grieved by sin that He nearly destroyed creation in the flood.  Not only that, but He destroyed His own Son to defeat sin.

These things leave us with one undisputed fact:  God is so holy, so perfect, so glorious that all things contaminated with sin fall short of His glory (Rom 3:23).

This fact leads us to discover another that is not so pleasing to our ears:  Because God is holy He must judge those who have rebelled against His glorious name.  From this God will repay every sin in His judgement (Rom 1:18).

But, then we are led to uncover the greatest truth of all:  God is so loving, gracious, and merciful that He laid down the life of His Son as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45), so that all who repent and believe might be saved (John 5:24).

This is the beauty of the Gospel!  That despite our sin, Christ died for us.  He has paved a way back to God, our creator.  Although God is holy and perfect, He was (and is) willing to redeem a people for Himself.  God is gracious enough to look at us in our filth and clothe us in garments of righteousness.  But, we cannot forget that this is God’s doing, and His alone.

The Truth of the Gospel

The fact of the matter is that we’re all screwed up.  We are all sinners.  Apart from divine intervention, and the regeneration of the Holy Spirit, that’s all we will ever amount too… a bunch of sinners.  We all deserve to be destroyed by the wrath of God.  We all deserved to be damned for all eternity.  But, praise be to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who made a way for us to be reconciled to Him.

And when this reconciliation starts to happen, when God peels back the scales on our eyes, a transformation begins.  The Holy Spirit begins to strip away the desires of our hearts, and He replaces them with the desires of God’s heart.  The patterns of our life begin to change, and a shift occurs where we are conformed to the patterns of the Kingdom of Heaven.  As we seek to know and follow Christ, we begin to become more like Him!  As we start to understand who God is, He starts to change who we are, but not before.

So, let’s stop the arguing.  Let’s stop trying to transform people by way of debate.  May we stop trying to persuade people to be “straight.”  Perhaps we can stop trying to clean up the language of the un-believers around us.  Let’s stop trying to make “good people” and start telling people the good news of Jesus Christ.  Let’s begin sharing the grace and mercy of our Holy God.  Then we can sit back and watch the Holy Spirit transform the lives of those whom we encounter.

Stop telling people they’re wrong, and start showing them the One who is right.

 
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Posted by on January 4, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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