"Oh to Grace how great a debtor
daily I'm constrained to be.
Let thy goodness, like a fetter
bind my wandering heart to Thee!"


Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Street Preacher Isn't the Problem, It is the Hatred for the Truth...

Apparently there was a street preacher on campus today that was screaming and yelling at everybody and telling them that they were going to hell. He was calling everyone a whore and condemning all the homosexuals to hell. Hmm. Personally, I didn't see him, but my teammates certainly did. And so, of course, it was the topic of conversation today in the locker room after practice. So immediately I tense up as I listen to my teammates mock the guy and say how ridiculous he is and how un-Christian he is being and blah blah, you know the drill. Honestly, I'm writing about this because this really got to me. Being one of the only Christians on my team (although I'm sure most would claim to be one), there are certain times (mostly taking place in the locker room) when the topic of conversation is so blasphemous and so ungodly that I am forced to speak up. This usually happens though when the sanctity of marriage is flippantly talked down about, or when the cussing has gotten to a point when it outnumbers regular words, or when something extremely vulgar is said, but lately most of the times that I have engaged in spiritual talk has come as a result of someone saying something about God, or the Bible, or Christianity in general that just simply ISN'T true. And this has caused me so much discouragement lately, because I realized that the concept of what it means to be a Christian to these girls is COMPLETELY 100% skewed and messed up on SO MANY levels that I don't even know where to start.

But back to the street preacher- I knew the phrase was going to come, so I waited, and sure enough... "The Bible says to judge not!"
ughhhhhhh. So at this point I had to jump in. I proceeded to say that while I agreed with them that this guy should not be out there screaming at every person that walks by and calling them whores, I couldn't denounce everything that this guy was saying. I had to set it straight that while the Bible says 'judge not, lest you be judged' you have to actually know the CONTEXT in which it was said in. Yes, it is true that if you are living in a particular sin and you are JUDGING someone who is doing the same thing, then you are a hypocrite. BUT, the Bible says for Christians to use RIGHTEOUS judgment, and I said to the person who had brought it up, "(insert name), would you agree that if someone murdered someone, you could rightly look at the guy and tell him that he was wrong??" and she said, yes. So I then told her that the Bible didn't mean to never use judgment in any case, because that would be foolish. I said, if you read what the Bible says and take it in context, then it is totally obvious that it is indeed true that unrepented homosexuals will not inherit the Kingdom of God (there were homosexuals in the room at the time, yikes. But, you see, that didn't cause a stir because my teammates know that I love them and am not saying that because I want to hurt them, but rather because I stand on the word of God) and so, therefore, this guy, even though I didn't agree with his means of spreading his message, was telling the truth and using righteous judgment on most of the things he was saying. But then I clarified that if he didn't know you personally and just started spewing things at you and calling you names, then that is not right. So then I just got some blank stares and most people had tuned me out before I even started, and man, it was probably one of the most helpless moments I had felt in a VERY long time. But I told them that this guy was out there warning people, and that yes, he could have done it differently, BUT maybe the warning should be taken heed to. And I also noted to them, that maybe the reason why so many people get SO OFFENDED by what he says is because a lot of stuff he says is true, and people don't want to hear it. (I couldn't believe that I had said that, God completely was giving me boldness because I was in the hot seat for sure). So then they look at me and say, but Sue, all those preachers out there don't make me want to have anything to do with Christianity or Christ.

Man, that sentence struck me. Not because it made me mad that the street preacher had done that, but because I realized that, even before this street preacher came and caused havoc, these girls didn't want anything to do with Christ or Christianity ANYWAY. I realized why people get so emotionally reactive to these guys....because they are JUMPING all over an excuse for why they denounce Christ and His teachings. They are jumping all over the opportunity to point the finger and blame someone else for their sinful lifestyles. One girl said, Sue, I grew up in the church and I believe in the Bible, but that guy just makes me mad and turns me off. But I wanted to say, no you grew up in church and you still have NO concept about the teachings of Christ and you may know some of what the Bible says, but you certainly don't believe it or you would be standing right next to me right now defending the truth with me, but instead, you are too busy being offended because he confronted your lifestyle. I didn't say that because that sounds really harsh, but I mean....what do you say? I didn't know what to say really; I didn't know where to go from there, I really didn't. Because for a second I saw the condition of my teammates. I saw just how confused they were about the truth and just how blind they were in their sins, and it made me sick. And sad. And it made me feel helpless, because I didn't have anything to say right then and there that was going to change their minds. I had shared the gospel with them earlier in the season, so they knew what it was about, but they didn't care. And this was proving it. Man, they didn't care about knowing the truth of the situation, they just wanted to condemn this preacher guy. Gosh, as I type that out, it really is so sad to me. They didn't care PRIOR to this preacher guy, so the issue at hand- as it became clear to me in the locker room- was not the street preacher at all. Instead, it was their hatred for the truth. And THAT is why I walked away from it all feeling so helpless. Only God can open ones eyes to the truth, we can only plant the seeds.

I couldn't help but think about how messed up everyone's view of love is. I mean true love. Most people have no concept whatsoever. And I thought about all the people that go out to the same spot on campus and preach the gospel and how from now on my teammates have lumped all of us into the category of the street preacher (because they have seen me out there before, and they will continue to see me out there in the future). It was such a weird feeling when my teammates were saying all this though, and then I realized why I felt so torn- literally, while they were talking I felt like the insides of me were being ripped out. And I think I know why. I thought about all the guys that I know that head out to turlington plaza (the place on campus where this guy was) and they bring their Bibles and they preach out of the love of their hearts to these students who are their own peers and who they know will mock them. But they do it for the remnant out there that might hear the word and believe, by the grace of God. I thought about how now whenever I go out there with my brothers and sisters and support them and help them, or when I am out there just sharing with people one by one, because I have a bible in my hand and I happen to be walking through turlington plaza, I am now lumped into this category of 'mean street preacher.' It made me so sad, because these are the people that truly love them; love them enough to tell them the truth. But instead they are mocked.

But then I thought about the verse in Galatians 6:7 that says be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man sows, that shall he also reap. Seeing the evilness in that locker room today and hearing all the mocking of God's truth really made me sick. I walked away wondering what it is that I could have said or done differently. I truly had felt like such an outsider (most of you are like, duh Susan, you are) but I mean really, I felt so alone at the time because I looked around and everyone else was on the same page but me. But when I racked my brain on why this was so and why I was feeling so helpless, I remembered that on the last day I will no longer be the one that is being ridiculed. But that comfort only lasted for a split second because it reminded me that I didn't want that fate for my teammates. I didn't want them to face judgment having not repented and turned to Jesus. So it brought me right back to where I started...the reason why people put themselves out there and preach the gospel and share truth even when they know they are going to be mocked is because they, too, are caught in the very same predicament as me. They are comforted that what they said may be mocked now, but be not deceived, for God cannot be mocked...but then they are driven with love for the lost and are compelled to share the truth with people even though it may hurt them at the time. Think about it, will the one sinner who heard the message and repented be sorry that you had hurt their feelings? No, they will be so overjoyed that you took the time to share it with them and that, as a result, they were set free from their bondage to sin. To this day I thank the person that spoke truth to me- he was also the one who 'hurt my feelings' the most for the time being-but there isn't a day that goes by that I don't thank God for compelling someone to love me enough to confront my sinfulness. The Bible says that angels rejoice in heaven when one sinner repents. So just because this form of preaching doesn't bring about an alter call in which a hundred people are deemed saved after saying a prayer, doesn't mean that it is unsuccessful or not glorifying to Christ (if done in humility and love).

Um, so, yeah. Street preachers. I love them (the ones out there for the right reason)....I am friends with many of them. But the guy that comes out and calls everyone a whore doesn't help the cause. And yet, I don't know what to think about the whole thing. His message is there but his deliverance is skewed? If anyone has some ideas on how to handle this situation when unsaved people bring this up please feel free to let me know. Because now, I have gotten to the point where I love people too much to just go along with their street preacher bashing. Even if I don't join them, not speaking up about it goes against my conscience because I know they are unfairly lumping all who stand on the street and proclaim the Gospel in love. I am so afraid of letting people think that their message doesn't hold truth and that they are doing a bad thing for getting out there and proclaiming it, because honestly, I don't think it is bad. I'm not Rob Bell who says, "bullhorn guy, I....don't....think...it's....working." No way, because who are we to say it isn't working? God's word will never return void. And think about the prophets of the Old Testament. You think Jeremiah wasn't mocked and talked bad about like this? Man, the people plotted his death, and it wasn't because he was out there preaching about 'asking Jesus into your heart.' No, he was calling out a sinful nation for what they were doing....turning their backs on a holy God and serving the lusts of the flesh...which by the way...leads to death. It is not a pretty message when you think about it for what it really is. But I don't want them to think that I condone them calling everyone a whore. And another thing, if someone goes out to preach and they are doing it in pride or arrogance, I don't see how that can be. The only thing that is keeping a Christian from being enslaved to sin like the world is the mercy and grace of God...and there is no room for pride in that case. And I'm afraid that the when someone is out there screaming at people and calling them every name in the book it is not a fruit of humble lovingkindness, that is for sure.

So there you have it. A street preacher came to UF and my team and probably 99% of the student population was offended by him. Go figure. The law is the schoolmaster, folks. When you preach it, it brings to light the true condition of unreconciled sinners, and well, they aren't going to like it. So if you find yourself being overly offended by one, maybe you should take heed to his message. Just a thought though. But thanks be to God that after the law reveals the condition, we have the remedy in Jesus Christ and His sacrifice on the cross. Don't get so caught up in the first message that you forget the second part. The Gospel is indeed the Good News, announcing freedom from the Law through Christ, and we should be hastily getting that message out to the people.

Again, any thoughts about this are welcomed, as long as you don't have the approach of most when they say that all street preachers are mean and bad and not nice and ahhhhh I can't handle that, so please refrain. I agree that truth should be spoken in love, but that doesn't mean we exclude anything that is offensive to sinners ( I am not talking about the screaming and abuse, that is not only offensive it is just wrong.) I don't write this to sound mean, I just really can't handle the Rob Bell and Rick Warren approach to things, it is sickening. Thanks guys, God bless.

9 comments:

UncleBroie said...

Susan,

My name is Bro Cope. I have been a campus preacher since 1977, and probably helped to train the preacher at UF. I want to say that you are uncovering the first 1/4 inch of the topsoil of street preaching. You are close, and I think you possibly might be open to accept some of the divine wisdom encapsulated in street preaching.

I am perhaps one of the most accomplished apologists concerning the theology of street preaching in this generation. If you are interested, I would like to take a few minutes to share with you some of the Biblical understandings that I have accumulated since I began to preach 31 years ago.

I know that if you would take a few minutes, I could show you how God is glorified in preaching, and exactly what preaching is supposed to do. Do you know what Jesus said was His expected outcome from preaching? I do.

If you would like to chat a little, I would be willing to make some time in my schedule.

I can be reached at 814-883-9183 between 10:00 am to 1:00 am eastern standard time.

This offer is also made to anyone else who might want to understand God's wisdom in street preaching.

1Co 1:21 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe

Bro Cope
The Campus Ministry, USA

Susan said...

Brother Cope, thank you so much for the reply! Yes, I would love to talk to you more about this. Lord willing, I will give you a call in the next couple of days so we can further this discussion. God bless you in your efforts to get the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ out to people which is the power of God unto salvation for all those who believe. Looking forward to chatting with you...

Susan

steveaa said...

Susan -

My name is Steve, and I am a born-again believer. I do street preaching at the University of Minnesota.

You wrote a very, very good article. Your insight and understanding about the locker room situation was perfect - it explained both sides of the situation and made sense. I can totally relate to what you were talking about. Your article made me laugh at times because it made so much sense. And beyond that, your article gave me some insight into what is going on when we preach to others, or even when we talk with others one-on-one about the gospel. I am going to re-read your article and ponder some of the points you made. Thanks, Susan. - Steve

2 Timothy 4
2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.
(KJV)

Susan said...

Steve, thanks so much for the kind and encouraging words. I am so glad that this was able to help you. It is so encouraging to hear from people who are out fighting this battle on the capuses so thanks for responding. Ever since I got to UF a year ago I have found myself right in the thick of this situation, and it has been such a blessing. All the glory to Christ for opening my eyes to the truth. Keep fighting the good fight of faith, brother, and just know that I will be praying for you and your efforts to spread the Gospel. Lord willing, feel free to keep in touch about this. God bless.

Susan

Mark 8:35
For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's, the same shall save it.

Paul Mitchell said...

Free street preaching manual at: www.PreachTruth.org

Ruben Israel said...

Susan I had someone email me your blog and I have emailed it out to other street preachers a number of days ago, as I see a few have posted to you already. I have been street preaching for over 28 years, right out of high school and I know most of those men preaching on your campus. There is reason why we do what we do and you seem to have eyes to see.
Now if we were to have a tract table on campus most students would just walk by without even looking at our literature. And as you know we do live in a Jerry Springer generation, where a person can have cable TV or satellite TV with over 350 channels and say “nothings on TV.” This is who we have to work with. So we must be a bit shocking and we must use a dash of satire, lest these same students keep walking in their stupor. Now after the crowd has gathered for hours, there are smaller conversations that are life changing, more than most will ever see or know. These conversations happened as a result of the public preaching.
Unfortunately most Christians wish to argue with us and try to dispute how more loving they are. Now one is not right while the other wrong, the realty is we are one BIG Body of Christ with many moving parts THAT SHOULD WORK TOGETHER. We are all not one toe, nor one big eye. And in the end, when these people die and stand before God, they will understand the whole picture. That our Father tried every way to beckon them into the kingdom of God. He has Christians trying to befriend them, others that pray for them or offer them scripture, maybe some that will invite to Church or dinner. THEN…..there are guys like us. The point is on that Day, the sinner has every opportunity to be saved, that sister is the FULL GOSPEL from a longsuffering God.
Public preaching, name calling, judging is very Biblical. Churches and denomination were started by men who preached outdoors. This is a talent that the modern day Church has buried and a number of us are trying to resurrect in the market place, streets, events and campus.
Before one could appreciate the physician one must know the result of their blood test and X-Rays. Who really likes to point this out, for this was the core reason Jesus was hated.
“The world cannot hate you; but me it hateth, because I testify of it, that the works thereof are evil” John 7:7

In HIS service Ruben Israel
http://www.officialstreetpreachers.com/

http://www.youtube.com/user/rubenisrael

Repentant Nicaraguan during Mardi Gras
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fcS4tTqNoOY
Las Vegas New Years Eve
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DSF2NX0XepY

Ruben Israel said...

Susan I had someone email me your blog and I have emailed it out to other street preachers a number of days ago, as I see a few have posted to you already. I have been street preaching for over 28 years, right out of high school and I know most of those men preaching on your campus. There is reason why we do what we do and you seem to have eyes to see.
Now if we were to have a tract table on campus most students would just walk by without even looking at our literature. And as you know we do live in a Jerry Springer generation, where a person can have cable TV or satellite TV with over 350 channels and say “nothings on TV.” This is who we have to work with. So we must be a bit shocking and we must use a dash of satire, lest these same students keep walking in their stupor. Now after the crowd has gathered for hours, there are smaller conversations that are life changing, more than most will ever see or know. These conversations happened as a result of the public preaching.
Unfortunately most Christians wish to argue with us and try to dispute how more loving they are. Now one is not right while the other wrong, the realty is we are one BIG Body of Christ with many moving parts THAT SHOULD WORK TOGETHER. We are all not one toe, nor one big eye. And in the end, when these people die and stand before God, they will understand the whole picture. That our Father tried every way to beckon them into the kingdom of God. He has Christians trying to befriend them, others that pray for them or offer them scripture, maybe some that will invite to Church or dinner. THEN…..there are guys like us. The point is on that Day, the sinner has every opportunity to be saved, that sister is the FULL GOSPEL from a longsuffering God.
Public preaching, name calling, judging is very Biblical. Churches and denomination were started by men who preached outdoors. This is a talent that the modern day Church has buried and a number of us are trying to resurrect in the market place, streets, events and campus.
Before one could appreciate the physician one must know the result of their blood test and X-Rays. Who really likes to point this out, for this was the core reason Jesus was hated.
“The world cannot hate you; but me it hateth, because I testify of it, that the works thereof are evil” John 7:7


In HIS service Ruben Israel
http://www.officialstreetpreachers.com/

http://www.youtube.com/user/rubenisrael

Repentant Nicaraguan during Mardi Gras
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fcS4tTqNoOY
Las Vegas New Years Eve
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DSF2NX0XepY

With You In Mind said...

I remember hearing a preacher preach a message on those words, "Judge not lest you be judged" and he said that this should have been translated, "Condemn not, lest you be condemned". And I have wrestled with the fact that we are to judge righteously. We judge our children to make sure they don't make the same mistake and so on. So we must judge, but we must not condemn anyone. I think that when a lie is being exploited and something rises within us to quash that lie, I think that is righteous judgement coming up from within us to not only expose the lie as error but to usher in the truth of the matter.

hail2bfly said...

I know it's been almost 2 years since you wrote this article. I recently came across this when I did a google search "Street Preaching in Vegas." I am currently in Vegas with my family and i have to say that nothing convicts my heart knowing that my father is one of the head elders in his church yet he brings his family to Vegas. In my culture, it's very disrespectful to speak out against the household, even in this case, with spiritual matters. As we were driving along the strip, I saw some street preaching outside my hotel. So here I am alone in my hotel room thinking about what God is going to do with this city.

Your article made me really encouraged that you stand so firm for what you believe in even at the cost of your reputation. Those street preachers outside my hotel are holding signs with at least the words "repent" and "sin." I didn't get a chance to hear what they have to say, but I do pray that the Lord will watch over their safety and grant them wisdom in their preaching.

Sometimes it's just so difficult to go against my family's vacation plans, especially when I understood God's intolerance against sin. Though it's 2010 now, I pray that you will continue with what I ready in this article and be a light onto the world.

Take care.