The Street Preachers Strike Again

Recently, someone commented on one of my blog posts. Here is the comment. The part in sub quotes, which I’ve emboldened, was taken from the blog post in question, in other words, I wrote it:

RuebenIsDisappointed“This is what you live out? Really?

‘My definition of evangelism looks something like this: To love my neighbors in truth – to get to know them, to listen to them, to truly “see” them. To be available to them, and to not give up on them – ever. That is, after all, how God treats me.’

“That’s not how he treats his own … His actions speak falsely … He judges and castes away those who have a differing opinion. He takes pride in yelling and arguing with those who stand on the street and share their point of view with others . He will condem you without seeking to understand. After all, he is right…there’s no room for any other perspective.
“If your actions are a reflection of who God is and If God treated you the way you truly treat others , I wouldn’t want to have anything to do with your God.
Your hypocrisy knows no bounds.”

Anytime someone comments on my blog, I get an e-mail and am given the choice to approve the comment or not. An e-mail address for the commenter is provided. This commenter’s name was given only as “Jo”. I don’t know who it is, but I am sure that he or she is connected with the bullhorn street preachers we regularly encounter here in Salem.

So I sent “Jo” an e-mail. This is what it said: “Have I wronged you in some way? I’m assuming you are one of the street preachers who preaches on the streets of Salem. Is this right?”

Having the misfortune of many years of dealing with these types, I know how they operate. I decided I would not approve the comment unless the commenter was willing to engage in something resembling a dialogue with me. I was sure he/she wouldn’t. But I had to provide the opportunity, and that’s why I sent the e-mail.

They didn’t respond.

So I sent a second e-mail a few days ago. This is what that one said: “I’m pretty convinced of your affiliation to the bullhorn street preachers, and your failure to answer my previous e-mail is very typical. You people are scared to death of having dialogue with those you come to slander. You are present day Pharisees, whitewashed tombs, wind without rain; you have nothing to offer the non-believers you judge and slander. 
“Had you chosen to engage, I would have approved your comment on my blog and a conversation could have taken place there. I am considering writing another blog post using your comment as the basis to show how devoid of anything resembling Christ-likeness you bullhorn cowards actually are. Thanks for that opportunity.”

Yes, I know that’s pretty harsh.

So why am I writing this blog? Because I find these people and their actions so reprehensible as to be akin to murder. That’s not much of a stretch, based on Jesus’ own definition of murder; it’s actually consistent with that definition. I feel this kind of hateful behavior needs to be exposed.

These people come, spewing insults and accusations toward people they not only don’t know, they refuse to know them. They absolutely refuse to engage in conversation, choosing instead to hide behind their bullhorns. I have heard the refer to people they do not know, some of them believers, as “sluts”, “homos”, “devil worshippers”, etc.

So let me take the commenter’s points one at a time:

“That’s not how he treats his own”

You would not believe the lengths I have gone through to get some of these would-be evangelists to admit that I am their brother in Christ. Yes, I believe they are Christians. Badly mistaken ones, but Christians nonetheless. Only once have I succeeded, and that was probably because I was making him really nervous. I can be intimidating sometimes.

If I am one of their own, why do they announce to the crowd that I am a heretic? and doing the devil’s work?

“He judges and casts away those who have a differing opinion”

This one is laughable and when my fellow ministers read this, they’re liable to choke on their soup. I should probably warn them before I post this. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black. These people have NO tolerance for any opinion other than their own very narrow and mean one. ‘Nuff said.

“He takes pride in yelling and arguing with those who stand on the street…”

Well, I don’t take pride in it, but other than that, guilty as charged.

“…and share their point of view with others”

They don’t “share” anything. They come uninvited and spew murder and hate. They come empty handed and are good only at really making people angry.

“After all, he is right…there’s no room for any other perspective”

One of their complaints against me is that I have TOO MUCH room for other perspectives. They themselves have none. Again, the pot calling the kettle black.

“I wouldn’t want to have anything to do with your God”

I know. My God is a God of mercy and grace. Yours is a harsh judge who hates people. They actually tell people this: “God hates you”. Yes, they do.

Many times, while these people are spewing hate from their bullhorns, I have shouted out to the crowd, “Who wants the god they’re preaching?”. They universally respond in the negative.

I can’t communicate how difficult these street preachers make it for those of us who are just trying to love people the way we see Jesus loving them. The older I get, the more sure I am that Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” was the legalists and “false apostles” who followed him around and made life difficult for them. It is frustrating beyond words. I fully understand why Paul and even Jesus used such harsh language in speaking to them and speaking about them. I know they are not going away. Sometimes, they make what we have to offer even more attractive. But their works are the most grievous thing we have to deal with, more difficult than lack of funds or fatigue. They are my thorn in the flesh.

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One Comment on “The Street Preachers Strike Again”

  1. mcrockett98 says:

    , wow, wow. Really good. All your posts are good and this one is really pretty awesome.

    In my own journey these days, I identify with the short-sightedness of folks who adhere to a model where they treat others only as Jesus treated the Pharisees. “You children of the devil… whitewashed tombs… How will you ever escape being cast into the fires of hell?…” Yet even though Jesus reserved these words only for his harshest critics and only in particular moments (he used the Pharisee’s commitment as an object lesson: “Your righteousness must exceed that of the Pharisees or you will surely not enter the kingdom of heaven”), eventually, all of Jesus’ supporters and closest friends betrayed him — only to be showered with Jesus’ relentless grace after Resurrection Sunday.

    By engaging Pharisees using a language they can relate to – unlike their use of the wrong dialect in their street preaching – I have no doubt that God will one day use your words to open the eyes of blind guides.

    For me, I would share my own personal mantra with a street preacher – a goal I still come woefully short of: “God, and everyone, is on my side. I better get with the program.”

    Peace Brother Dennis. God’s Grace continually be with you.

    Like


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