I read a recent post that caught my attention about a street preacher from the USA who was arrested while preaching on the streets of Wimbledon, England recently for “homophobic remarks” that offended one listener in particular.
Now, absolutely, this was a far overblown and silly charge to begin with. The term “homophobia” has become this (to borrow a phrase) junk drawer term today like ADHD was a diagnosis a decade or so ago. Then: “We’re not sure what’s wrong with your child. They must have ADHD. Give them these pills.” Today: “You’re saying something that i don’t like. You sound like you don’t agree that i should be able to sleep with whomever i want. You must be homophobic.“
To think that you could be arrested for what this man preached is wrongheaded and, sadly, just the birth-pangs of what’s coming.
But here’s the thing that stood out (beyond the ridiculous charge): this man says he intentionally chose as his text 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8 and decided to preach on the sin of sexual immorality to this group of whomever happened to pass by, viz. those with whom he had built no rapport or even knew him from your uncle. And if you watch the video, few, if any, stop to hear what he has to say. Which means – generously – he has about 20 seconds where these people, whom he surely cares about and wants to share Jesus with, can clearly hear his voice.
And my question is: what do they hear in those 20 seconds?
Or maybe: What should they hear in those 20 seconds?
Now – yes and amen – recognizing that we are guilty before a holy and God and turning from our sin is part of a gospel presentation; and we are to call people to repentance. But – as we surely all would agree – seeing that we stand justly condemned before a holy God is not good news. The good news is that – though we all stand guilty – in grace and mercy that God did something about it (Eph. 2:4-10) by sending Jesus to live perfectly and die in our place and be raised again on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures (1 Cor. 15:3,4). In fact, those things are what Paul says are “of first importance.” Paul doesn’t even mention sin in this famous gospel passage except to proclaim what God did for sinners.
And so, the next time God grants this street preacher, or me, or you, 20 seconds, or a minute, or an hour, to say something about Him to those who desperately need to hear, what will they hear from us? How much God hates our our sin? (and He absolutely does!) Or how much God did for guilty sinners?
One is a message of condemnation only. The other is a message of life and hope that would surely lead to then talking about sin and repentance.
What will you do with the time God gives you?
“For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him.” – Jesus.