We’re back. A wheelbarrow full of concrete mix, lots of water and ready to get my masonry game on brick-by-brick on this amazing wall God has allowed us to build over the past year plus.
Although over the HOLY-days, religious news was scanty, I did locate one editorial from AOL’s “Sphere” that tickled my fancy and got my charismatic pants shuckin’ and jivin’.
In case you didn’t take two Tylenol PM on December 31, you may have ventured to a New Years’ Eve party (or two). Perhaps, you heard the hollow-throated Dick Clark on TV (so, so sad)? Either way, if you are an “open-air” street preacher, you would be hard pressed to find more of a bountiful harvest than one of those shindigs, as Steve Friess opines:
Yet these revelers did so both with great amusement and plenty of spite, reactions to a far more incongruous sight for the wildest party Sin City throws each year: A row in the middle of Las Vegas Strip of about 30 evangelical preachers waving gigantic placards warning of eternal damnation for the “porno freaks,” “baby killers,” astrologers, Mormons, Muslims, gays and “so-called Christians” in their midst.
Let’s get this clear: I unequivocally admire street preachers.
I have often exclaimed that anyone can do what a megachurch pastor can do if the spirit is right. You know, the band is playing something smooth, a message has been shared about God’s redemptive power and then out goes the nets.
Trust me, with an atmosphere like that, an Atheist could reel in a fine catch of new souls for the glory of God.
Now, get that blinged out pastor on a dusky-hued street corner mano-y-mano and they become slack jawed troglodytes who can barely stammer their way out of Genesis. If you can win one soul in that situation, you are a pro at this Jesus thing.
That said, here’s my question: Does picketing the lost really do anything but harm to the greater good?
Look at the picture. They are smiling for four reasons:
- They are completely hammered on boxed wine.
- They read the signs and think the tools holding them are well… tools.
- They can’t believe Criss Angel gave them a dollar and made it disappear.
- Or… all of the above.
Either way, do those signs really plant a seed? I remember the days when I used to roam the streets aimlessly and not one of those signs outside a night club throttled my zeal to go inside and forget they were freezing their blessed assurance outside.
When Jesus finally got my attention, it wasn’t because of those magical seeds planted by Johnny Appleseed barking at me from a turned-over milk crate. I heard Jesus because of a still, small voice that shared love, care and change.
Don’t take my word for it:
Friendly is not a word most would use for the reception the posse of proselytizers received standing shoulder-to-shoulder outside the Mirage Hotel-Casino in a swarm of hundreds of thousands of partiers. The preachers took turns on the bullhorns, with a typical message coming from a fellow named Jeremy from New Mexico who shouted: “You’re on the road to hell right now. Hell is a place of fire and brimstone. Must you all go to hell before you understand that God is not playing around?”
Granted, the message is right. However, is the method? People will hate us completely. It’s in the Bible and we should expect it, but at least, let them hate because we are showing them God’s love.
How many times in the synoptic chapters do we read of Jesus encouraging his 12 eager ragamuffins to dollop some paint on a piece of animal hide and find the town floozie to make her feel bad enough to beg for forgiveness?!
Wall watchers, if there’s anything we need to do in 2010 is get real with God and encourage everyone – the lost and the found – to do the same. Lukewarm only gets you one thing in life and I’m in no mood to become one of God’s lugies!
If I see a transgression, I’m calling it out but I want it to stick. I want it to matter. Does picketing outside gay night clubs with completely inappropriate signs, “God hates fags” matter to anyone other than the dolt who wrote it?
The art of a harvest begins with properly planting a seed. If that seed is thrown on dirt, they’ll only get dusty and blown away. Put that seed in some soil, regardless how damp it is, and that thing has the potential to blossom.
I know we will all remain steadfastly committed to calling out the slack, the false profits, the riff raff and the scam artists. However, if we see anything remotely resembling a picket sign, call it out and teach its author how to make it matter.
Maybe if there are no more picket signs and no more hurling denominational malarkey, we can finally create a unified message of God’s reality and make more of them stick. Maybe then, they will read. Maybe then, it will matter. Maybe.