Saturday, February 18, 2012
Indianapolis held a great Super Bowl experience this year. My husband and I both work downtown at the heart of where all the action and festivities occurred, so we were able to enjoy some of the events.
While we walked along the city streets, we saw waves of fans, families and street vendors everywhere. Our stomachs soon grumbled as we smelled a variety of meat and fried foods being cooked at the various stands and restaurants along the way.
We heard all kinds of amazing music from DJ’s to live bands. On one corner, you’d see a blue-grass band. At another corner, you’d see a jazz band. On a stage, we saw a hip-hop group popular in the 90’s, En Vogue. We were even able to hear a church choir that sounded remarkably good.
What surprised both of us were all of the street preachers. You could not even go a block without seeing one with a megaphone and hearing them shouting to get your attention.
Immediately, I thought of the verse in 1st Timothy 4:13 which calls for the public reading of Scripture “Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching.”
At first, I admired these braved souls for being willing to preach the Word of God to complete strangers and such a large, wandering crowd. Then, it was quickly squelched by a feeling of uneasiness and sorrow. I wondered, “How many people are actually listening to this?”
Every single one of the street preachers had the exact same message when we passed by. All of them were talking about sin, repentance, and the time being at hand.
There were people in the crowd video-recording the preachers on their phones, some laughing and sharing mocking looks. Others would just say snide comments and walk on by.
So many thoughts swirled in my head. I finally turned to my husband, pointed at one of them and said “how effective do you think that is?” Without missing a beat, he said “not at all.”
While shaking my head and feeling like a giant heretic for not being on the preachers’ side, I said “oh, well; at least we live in a country that allows us to do something like that.”
Still, I couldn’t shake the crushing feeling that I was somehow impeding their mission by not appreciating their efforts more; even though they were just thoughts in my head.
Then, it hit me. Were they really trying to spread God’s Word and draw the lost to Him, or were they just trying to make it about themselves and their mission? It made me wonder, “Are they really helping the Kingdom of God, or pushing people away?”
After all, the Bible says not to waste time on the spiritually closed-minded. Matthew 7:6 quotes Jesus as saying “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.”
Still, I couldn’t reconcile which Scripture applied to this circumstance, and why I felt like their efforts were in vain.
On the one hand, when John the Baptist and Jesus began to preach, they both called people to repent in Matthew 3 & 4 (Matthew 3:2 “…“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near…”). On the other hand, Jesus preached a great deal about other things as well. Plus, what do non-believers know about “sin,” and “repentance?” Does it have any sort of meaning to them whatsoever?
So, I prayed. I prayed, and I read Scriptures.
The first thought that popped into my head was the Great Commission in Matthew 28:19: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…”
Ok, that was a start. But “how?”
This lead me to search for the word “preach” in the Bible on the internet. It returned 104 results.
Many of the Old Testament results talked about preaching against rebellion or other unsavory acts committed by the Chosen People. The New Testament results started with John the Baptist and Jesus preaching of repentance as mentioned earlier.
As I read on when Jesus’ ministry took flight, He proclaimed the good news of the Kingdom and performed healing:
“Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people." (Matthew 11:23-25 NIV)
And after Jesus ascended to Heaven, what of the Disciples then? What did they preach?
“Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went. Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Messiah there. When the crowds heard Philip and saw the signs he performed, they all paid close attention to what he said. For with shrieks, impure spirits came out of many, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed. So there was great joy in that city.” (Acts 8:4-8 NIV)
Based on these findings, were these Street Preachers during the Super Bowl experience sending the message God wanted them to send? I tried to put myself in a nonbeliever’s shoes and wondered “what would make me stop and listen?”
Sadly, terms like “sin and repentance” wouldn’t make much sense to me if I thought I wasn’t sinning according to the World’s standards.
Then, I put myself in the Street Preachers’ shoes. What would I say if I was given their forum?
As I prayed, I thought of troubles that plague our society; believer and non-believer alike. I don’t know about you, but no matter how much rest I get at night, nor caffeine I drink in the morning, I am constantly tired.
And what about irritability, frustration and despair? While I don’t feel like that every single minute of the day, I do feel that way when I think about the non-believers I love; and the fact that their entire value system is at odds with mine: from the political candidates they choose to the meaning of life.
Let’s not forget about addictions. If you aren’t struggling with one, I’m sure you know of someone who is.
Hey, what about the general sense that the World is heading towards some sort of end? Whether it’s man-made global warming, an asteroid, nuclear war or what’s said in the Bible, there is a general fear/apprehension amongst most of mankind that the way of life as we know it will be coming to an end soon.
So, while I applaud their efforts to put themselves out there and preach in the streets, my overall reaction left me feeling like their endeavors were in vain.
You have to ask yourself, “Who are you talking to? What is the message God wants me to give?” After all, Jesus and John the Baptist started preaching to Jews who had been taught what sin and repentance were.
From what I saw at the Super Bowl Experience, a great deal of the non-believing crowd was the MTV, reality-show, You-tube junkie, self-absorbed generation who had zero concept of what true right and wrong is; let alone a map on where to find it.
This whole experience leads me to ask my fellow Believers to please pray that God gives you the Words that He wants you to say if you are ever brave enough to preach in the streets. Always carry a Bible (or a smart phone with the Bible on it) so you can read directly from the source. I did not see one of the preachers with a Bible or quoting directly from Scriptures.
Finally, I ask for God’s forgiveness if I misrepresented His warriors. Many of God’s prophets have been ignored, scorned, ridiculed or persecuted when they spoke a message He wanted His people to hear. Sometimes, we will not always see it until after-the-fact when something is fulfilled. Only God knows for sure what is in their hearts and if they’re trying to make it about Him or themselves. All I know is the impression I received was not a favorable one.
About Rebecca Droeger
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