Just recently, an elderly Nigerian street preacher was arrested by two London policemen who snatched his Bible off them. His message? Jesus said, I am the way and the truth and the life. He was arrested for a “breach of the peace” even as he told people how to get peace with God.
Most people, including many Christians, are in favour of the ghettoisation of Christianity. Faith is a private matter, they argue, it shouldn’t impinge upon the public sphere. Open air preaching is like a dirty phrase, not just in the world, but among many professing Christians too.
Instead of obeying the Great Commission, we make excuses as to why going to people and telling them the gospel isn’t a good strategy. Instead we invite people to events where they may or may not hear the gospel.
Instead of labouring the point and bemoan the state of the church in the West, let me go back to basics and ask WWJD? In fact, what did Jesus do? For that matter, why did He come?
Yes, Jesus came to die on the cross for our sins, but He lived for thirty three years before that. Why did He bother? Why didn’t He just go straight from heaven to the cross and back?
Was it simply to do a few signs and wonders? Not primarily. In His own words,
And he said to them, “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.”
Mark 1:38 ESV
What did Jesus preach? Well it wasn’t Islamophobia or homophobia…
and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”
Mark 1:15 ESV
Jesus didn’t emphasise what we need to repent from (like manmade religion or sexual immorality) as much as the good news that we need to leave our sin for.
Granted, street preachers need to be as wise as snakes and innocent as doves. Christ didn’t call us to condemn Muslims or homosexuals, but to preach good news to them. If people asked Jesus questions to try and trap Him, He knew He wasn’t obliged to answer, and often fired a question back.
What do I think about Muslims? They need to repent and believe the good news. What do I think about homosexuals? They need to repent and believe the good news.
Our great commission as Christians is to preach the good news. For most, that doesn’t involve street preaching. For all, it involves “gossiping the gospel” to all and sundry that we come across in our lives.
Are we going to be conformed to the pattern of the politically correct world that would silence us into oblivion, or are we going to be transformed into the likeness of our Lord Jesus Christ, and obey His call to go and make Him known?
Apparently nearly 50% of American professing Christian millennials don’t believe in evangelism. Let me respond in conclusion with some words of Paul, that evangelist par excellence:
For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”
Romans 10:13-15 ESV
We’ve all been sent to preach the gospel. We may not be conventional church preachers; our gender may disqualify us! But no one’s disqualified for evangelism!
How has God’s kingdom ever advanced? Through the preaching of the gospel, not just behind closed doors, but out in the streets (and of course through friendship evangelism). That’s how revival came to the UK back in the day, in the face of great persecution. History may well repeat itself!
Not everyone has the priviledge of a Christian acquaintance to share the good news of salvation in Christ with them. That’s why we have to take the gospel to the streets, and to YouTube etc!