Friday, February 15, 2008

Nebraska Street Preacher Wins Free Speech Battle

I read an interesting article from Hastings, Nebraska where a man was standing on a public sidewalk and would share his faith with anyone willing to listen. The police intervened several times and the man was eventually arrested. The U.S. District Court for Nebraska ordered the City of Hastings to repeal the unconstitutional ordinance that was used on the man. That action will guarantee he can share the gospel on public sidewalks without fear of reprisals from police. You can see the complete article here.

While reading the comments from the readers of the article, I came across an interesting comment:

"I see that all of the comments are positive on this story. One thing that I wondered is, was this street preacher standing on the street screaming REPENT to all passers by or was he sharing his faith in love. I know that it does not make a difference on the fact that he had the right of freedom of speach whichever way he was conducting himself, but it does make a difference to me, a Christian. I say this because if he was SCREAMING his faith (which has no love in it) he was doing harm, and not good to the cause of Christ. Jesus said and showed us with His actions that we are to share our faith in love. Just wondering which this preachers actions were."

While I agree that "screaming" is never a good idea, we must be careful when we say to never discuss repentance. What a shame it would be to tell someone about the Gospel and not mention the absolute need for repentance (Luke 13:3-5, Acts 2:38). While we should do that kindly, the ultimate sign of love is presenting the Gospel accurately so that conversions are real and we do not give an individual a false sense of security in their salvation.

I listened to a preacher present the Gospel and an altar call a few months ago and he never mentioned repentance. I thought his sermon was very good but by leaving repentance out was like being in first place in a marathon and stopping a few feet from the finish line and never completing it.

I asked the pastor why he left out repentance and he told me "Travis, if someone is truly converted we will see repentance from them." I agree with that but why aren't we telling them about it? What are we scared of? We should be scared that thousands if not millions of our church members have never repented of their sins and while they may have a knowledge of Jesus Christ, the scriptures clearly tell us they are not saved. All of us that play a role in these false conversions should be scared.

I have sat through countless sermons and numerous churches and I honestly cannot recall the word "repentance" being said in a service. I know there are a ton of preachers and churches that do discuss repentance so I am in no way saying it is not ever done. In my humble experiences, I have not seen it.

How about you?

1 comment:

Tony Miano said...

Jesus' first sermon was short and to the point. "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel" (Mark 1:15).

Jesus was the greatest of open-air preachers and he called people to repentance and faith.

The person who commented on the Nebraska court decision, sadly, equates volume with screaming. There is a difference between preaching "to" people in the open-air and angrily screaming "at" people.

When I open-air preach, some of the angriest hecklers I face are people like the commentator in the article. They are quick to assert that they are a Christian, and quicker still to be offended by the proclamation of the Law and the Gospel.

I'll have this story in mind as I open-air preach this evening on a public sidewalk in southern California. :-)

Thanks for posting it, Travis. :-)