I haven’t blogged in a while but this incident fired me up so much I needed a place to vent and the blogosphere is a great place for that. For those easily offended you may need to stop reading now.
I recently attended a car show in Pigeon Forge and ran across something I had never encountered in that environment, a full-fledged megaphone wielding street preacher. Actually not just one but a whole slew of white shirted, tie wearing, shouting, tract distributing, street evangelists. Now I know some of you are thinking why would a pastor who claims to be so passionate about reaching men for Jesus object to this evangelistic activity? The answer is simple, these clowns were driving away the very people they were trying to reach. While well-meaning Christians drove by honking their horns and giving a big thumbs up to the anti gay, anti fornicating, anti drinking, anti anything else you could think of signs I wondered what would an average person living without Jesus in their life think? As a simple test I decided to do a little undercover work as a beer swilling, car loving, redneck.
Take a close look at the picture above and you will see yours truly apparently drinking his favorite “tall boy” malt beverage from a paper sack. (Actually a 16oz Diet Mountain Dew) I attempted to engage this individual by opening up with some friendly banter. He seemed to be somewhat angered by my opening question. “Hey bro you got any cold beer over there in your cooler?” He smugly replied “No I do not” and it was on from there. He explained to me in detail the evils of alcohol. Well even the most unchurched drunkard knows that the Bible talks about wine so I proceeded to lead him down that path. He explained that wine in the Bible is actually unfermented grape juice. With a puzzled look on my face I asked him “didn’t people in the Bible get drunk on wine?” Well he explained this really wasnt wine but was strong drink. (By the way Jesus turned water into wine and Baptists turned it back into grape juice) My next question…”How does an average guy like me figure out this whole mess, its confusing, what does it mean to be saved anyway?” Here it is, an evangelist’s dream. I had teed the ball up, put the club in his hand and all he had to do was whack it home. His response “You need to read your Bible and repent” What? This idiot had just reduced the greatest news in the world into a religion of works. It wasn’t about what Jesus had done for me but about what I must clean up in my life in order to escape the wrath of God. I want you to notice something else in the picture. This man never attempted to make eye contact with me. He was so focused on his message of repentance and damnation that he overlooked a person seeking the answer to the most important question to ever be asked: “what must I do to be saved?”
I know some are going to be critical of my analysis and say, “well at least he was doing something”. I’ve got news for you, doing something isn’t always better than doing nothing if it drives people away from Jesus. The South, the buckle of the so called bible belt, is filled with people who won’t go to church because of this very type of encounter with the Christian elite. This is the reason I co-founded Journey Chattanooga with Mark. We want to cut through all of the religious crap and show people the Love of Jesus Christ and His power to change lives!
If you want more information on the street preachers check out their website. Even better maybe they will show up at Chattanooga’s Riverbend festival and some of you hell bound music lovers will get to experience their “love” first hand.