One April Saturday night the Deaf Church went out for ice cream with our new Deaf Pastor. It turned into a learning experience that got me thinking.
Who are we kidding, it doesn’t take much to get me thinking. The blog’s tagline is ‘thoughtful Christianity’. It’s true though, that night I saw two evangelical approaches to reaching people for Jesus.
Downtown Ice Cream and Fire and Brimstone
We rode with our friends downtown and while we were looking for a place to park we keyed on this individual walking down the sidewalk. A man dressed in black, with a cowboy hat and waving a book, preaching and walking at the same time.
Russ rolled down the window so we could hear him as we passed by.
“You’re in trouble!” He said to anyone that would listen.
Kee, in the backseat, asked, ‘Why am I in trouble?” in a somewhat innocent tone.
I listened as he kept going preaching from John. I wasn’t sure if he was a street preacher or a crazy person spouting heresy. Street preacher it turns out, in the style of John the Baptist.
Burgers, Ice Cream, and a Lotta Love
We decided to hit David’s Burgers first for real food. While there, I’m not sure what gave it away, but Jaila, who took the order asked me, “Are you from FirstNLR?” (That’s our church.)
“I used to go there when I was younger.”
“Really, there’s the student Pastor right there.”
Pastor Gary engaged, asking her name, speaking with her. He’s very relational. It’s interesting watching him relate to people.
Afterward, Casey played the spelling game with him. It’s a trap. She got him. I’ve fallen for it. Russ has. Kee has. We knew he was the next victim.
While we visited, we watched the street preacher go back and forth.
Then we went to Kilwins for ice cream. I walked out and saw the street preacher walking away looking defeated.
While sitting outside, a black man dressed in ragged clothes walked up and asked for money so he could get food from McDonald’s. He spoke quietly and I couldn’t catch all of it. Russ said he could get some cash and told the man stay there so we can pray for him.
“No, I’ll go with you.”
They left, and I went with them. My experience in the River Market, despite it being cleaned up now, is that two is better, and I was always behind the guy.
Remember, we’re to be as innocent as doves, but shrewd as serpents. Jesus doesn’t want us to be naive.
Then we got back and Pastor Gary, Russ, and me prayed for the guy who wanted a meal. I watched Pastor Gary again. He’s very good with people.
A Study of Contrasts
Which is right? What if I said both? It’s all in the audience.
We have to call sin what it is. Sin. That’s what the old prophets did, they spoke with a prophetic voice calling for repentance. Jesus did as well.
His usually was directed at the uber-religious and the self-righteous.
He also lovingly called for repentance. He loved people in such a way that prostitutes, outcasts, and broken people easily came to him.
He cared for them, loved them, and by his loving on them shamed them in their sin.
Have you met someone who’s so genuinely good that you feel like a bad person? Like you don’t measure up? I have and do still. Their example calls me to become better.
The ultimate example is Jesus, who forgives those sins and wants us to follow him and become better. All Christians are called to become like him.
Something to think about.