I met a new friend the other day. He is a street preacher who has located himself at what us Torontonians have dubbed, Dundas Square, our replica of Times Square.
The reason we met is that he and I share a mutual friend. We connected on Facebook, I watched a few of his video clips as they shared some of his experiences on the street, sharing the gospel.
He is a true peacemaker, trying to bring the Word of God out on the street with a voice that is battling the other voices that exist in order to point in the direction of Jesus. He is, by the very nature of being on the street, an apologetic and able with some persuasive speech, win a few engagements as they come along. By and large, there are always a few people who stay and listen to what he has to say.
When I say peacemaker, I mean that in its truest form. He loves as he preaches. He is not crazy, does not yell and shout, does not damn anyone, sticks to only one message – Christ came for only one reason – to save us.
Well, this past weekend was our Pride parade and he thought he should be there, at his corner, with another voice, proclaiming the Word of God. Can’t say it was pretty, and I am sure he was all alone because most Christians made a point of not being anywhere near the parade.
Police came, asked him to leave. There were arguments about tolerance for one but not for the other; freedom of speech for one and not for the other etc.
What would be the charges on Christians who were brave enough to stand and proclaim the Gospel in our cities today?
I think they would reference us to something like a plague, someone who corrupts the morals of others. Maybe turbulent, or an encourager of tumult and disorder – our message does not fit in. Not just a person who acts like a pestilent, but that we were the very pestilence itself.
There is not doubt that they would be seen as a ringleader – speaking on behalf of all Christians – so active, and so prominent in preaching the gospel.
Many of us Christians would try to distant ourselves from them and call them a sect, even heretical.
If they didn’t already belong to a denomination, we would make up one for them and I am sure it would be given by way of contempt.
Sometimes I think that when we are only about peacekeeping, we must be pretty soft in our message. The gospel message is a tough message and one does not win friends and influence people when one speaks into the lives of people the truth of this message. I work with SAT-7 who broadcasts into the Middle East and North Africa, and we are always afraid of those who will take offense of the message because there is history in this region of such action. In Toronto, the worse thing so far is an escort off your street corner at a time when it probably would have saved your life.
Somehow I am coming to a place where I need to participate in making some noise, disturb a little bit with the truth of the Gospel, make some waves in the traditional walk of life, calling people to a place where their lives will be radically changed with an encounter with Jesus’ love. I can only pray that my Church and those that I meet would not see me as a troublemaker – but who am I kidding.