Response: The man had a bible in his hand. So why did he make me feel so uncomfortable?

This morning, I woke up and the first thing in my feed was a post someone had shared by Andy Youso entitled, “The man had a bible in his hand, so why did he make me feel so uncomfortable?” Typically I ignore these types of posts, but this one caught my attention because I know of, and pray for, the man in the picture used at the top of Andy’s post. When I read the blog post I found myself interpreting “uncomfortable” as scared (admittedly that might not be right but how it seemed) I have had conversations with this man (the one pictured) online when he’s been discouraged in his work for the Gospel. I, too, have at times considered him a little rough, but never to a point that I thought someone might be afraid of him. I’ve watched him, through video and Facebook posts, grow in his own walk as has continued to faithfully serve Christ over the years.

I draw both conviction and encouragement from Eduardo Ramos. Today many might consider him a hard-line preacher. He sticks to the law, and follows it with the Gospel. He doesn’t cower away from many of the “accepted sins” of American Christianity, and as such many are offended by what he has to say. As I stated, I’ve yet to see someone be, or claim, that he scared them. It is the use of Eduardo’s picture that caused me to take on this post.

eduardo

I was mildly upset that you, Andy, chose to use this [above] picture of someone you’ve likely never seen preaching anywhere in Saint Paul. I realize that our blog posts look much more professional when we add pictures to them, but what you did here, Andy, was throw a brother in Christ under the bus in order to give an image of street preaching to viewers of your blog. And as a result you painted a man not responsible for causing you to be “uncomfortable”, a servant of our Savior, as some sort of lunatic who was screaming in anger at you as you walked by his pointing and yelling. Except you never walked by him. Had you not used this picture, a picture of a man I follow on Facebook, but instead used one of someone I did not know, I would have assumed you took it yourself. It is possible that is what others will assume also.

If you’re interested in seeing Eduardo preach, you can find one of his video’s here (ironically in this video he’s preaching against encouraging others to not obey God’s commands). And if you’d like to follow him on Facebook you can do so, I don’t think he’d have any problem adding you to the other 4000 or so people who follow him. A group of people which does not only include people who agree with him, but plenty of folks who are angry at him, and yet another group, like myself who learn and are encouraged by Eduardo, but are not afraid to rebuke him when he crosses a line.

Since your post clearly has nothing to do with the preacher above, I think we’ve just covered both slander, and copyright infringement. I’ll move on to what I actually wanted to address now, but I do hope you’ll take the time to send a message to Eduardo apologizing since he is already aware of your use, or misuse of this picture of him preaching.

First I’d like to acknowledge that the following is, in some cases, a problem among some preachers.

There was a guy on a platform at the very end of the street, a bible in one hand, and the other hand pointing down at me and yelling.

Not only among some preachers, but in my case, even among some evangelists who witness one to one. It wouldn’t take you long, looking over my blog or my Facebook to find some things I really shouldn’t have said, or the way I said them was horrible. But saying the anger is there only holds true if we assume a tone and disposition in the yelling you’re talking about. Because simply yelling, is not the problem.

I was thinking about how Jesus reached people. He didn’t yell, at least at the “sinners.” He did get angry at the people that pretended to be religious and better than everyone else though.

I find two errors in this claim, and I hope the fact that you made them isn’t an indication of the little time you spend in scripture, or the surface view approach you might take to studying it. I sincerely hope that they are a result of simply over-site, after all there is a lot in that book to study!

First, you’re correct, Jesus did get angry at religious folks who thought they were better than others. In fact, I often have to point out to folks who tell me Jesus was always gentle that he actually chased people out of the Temple with a whip once. That said, as evangelists we shouldn’t just look at Jesus as our example. Yes, Christ is what we aspire to be imaged after. But when it comes to sharing the Gospel and making disciples we also have all the other apostles and disciples to look at. In terms of not yelling, I can assure you when Jesus spent the time teaching a crowd of 5000, the 5000 he ends up miraculously feeding with five loaves of bread and two fish, he was raising his voice.

Jesus had just spent what was likely a significant amount of time preaching parable after parable to a large crowd. When Jesus hears that John the baptist has been beheaded, he tries to withdraw from them, but the people follow him. When he gets out of the boat he works some more, healing their sick. After which he then feeds them. Preaching to a crowd of that size, I don’t understand how you might think that he wasn’t raising his voice/yelling in order to be heard.

In act’s 20:20 Paul confirms he taught both publicly and from house to house. There are numerous references to the apostle teaching in the market place or public. A place that no doubt required him to yell to be heard. In fact, in his teaching on one occasion he made the crowds so angry that he had to escape out windows, or was carried out of town. All events in which I’m sure he preached with a raised voice.

When John the baptist was baptizing and teaching, “the voice of one calling in the wilderness” I can’t imagine he didn’t teach with a raised voice. He was baptizing soldiers, and citizens, tax men, and others. There were many people who were trying to hear him, or who he was trying to make sure he was heard by as he was addressing questions from them. I doubt he did this without a raised voice.

All of this demonstrates that simply yelling, or raising our voice is not a problem, but it is the problem you addressed here. Was the preaching done in anger, or with malice? We don’t know, because what you wrote indicated that it was simply yelling and pointing while holding a Bible. When you simplify it in such a way, I can’t help but ask, do you mean you were scared, or convicted? Because there is a difference between the fear that the Westboro Baptist Church causes in people, and the conviction that Eduardo, the teacher you tossed under the bus, causes in people.

That said, We’re not all called to share the Gospel in the same way, But we are all called to share the Gospel, an action that is active.

Now, I’m not the type to stand on a street corner and start telling people about Jesus, yelling or not.

As I just mentioned, this might not be how you do it. I’m not an “open air” preacher type either. I will happily share Christ with a group of individuals when presented the opportunity. I typically will not back down or restrain my sharing because of fear. I’ve also been known to ensure conversations get turned into chances to share Christ with others by actively guiding the conversation in a spiritual direction. It’s incredible how often we get chances to share Christ with others when we’re obedient to do so, and asking God for opportunity. Not everyone has to be a street preacher, as in other area’s of life, we’re not all feet, or hands, but we can’t all simply be the wallet either.

I’m not even good about sharing Jesus at all.

Here is the biggest problem in this post. This is the type of thing that we need to be careful of. You admit that you’re not good at sharing at all. Somehow you can look down at their way of doing it when you’re not even trying. It’s easy to not fail when you don’t try. But when you’re full of fear, and push through it, and try to be obedient despite the fear, you might make a mistake in how it’s presented. The preacher might have the purist intentions, but fall on his face. But here is the reality: A failing preacher will earn much more reward in heaven than the disobedient judge.

So, when I got back in the van with my kids, we had a talk about what we experienced. They wanted to know what the guy was doing. I told them he was trying to tell others about Jesus, but maybe not in the best way.

Did you also take the time to critique, openly and honestly, your own disobedience in this area, or did you simply teach your children that the preacher was doing it wrong? Leaving them only your example of not doing it at all as the correct example? You see, our children are going to follow us. And if you’re not setting an example of “loving others” then how are they going to learn to do that? Based solely on this post (it’s all I know of you honestly, and all I can address) what your children were taught in this is that loving others is saying nothing to them while they slip into hell as they die, rather than risking how you look and what people will say about you in an attempt to share the Gospel with them.

Even in scripture people who were not with Christ shared the Gospel, and they may or may not have done it well, we’re not really sure. But what we do know, is that when the disciples were judgmental about it, and tried to get them to stop, Jesus told them to let them preach, for whoever isn’t against Him, is for Him. God can use wretched men who hate him, preaching the Gospel with a deceived heart, to reach the lost for his kingdom. But he can’t use the preaching of the silent at all.

I think that the way I can best reach others with the Love of God, is by showing love, in a way so outrageous and unconditional that people will ask, “What’s different about you, and how can I be like that?”

I believe this to be a cop-out. Let me tell you why. I don’t know anyone, and I do mean anyone, in our culture who has had people ask them to give an account for how they live. Believe me I ask! You know why I ask? Because the workers are few and there is no excuse for us to not be sharing our faith, and any time you bring up sharing Christ with others, somebody is going to use this example of scripture as a reason, or as a “how I do it” for an excuse for why they don’t do it.

Do you live in a garage instead of a house? Do you grow your own food, in order to give it away, and pass more money onto others? Do you avoid theme parks, trips, vacations, and visiting places in order to give others the money you save? Do you sacrifice to such a point that it hurts in order to give to others and love others? Do you buy only old cars, other peoples discarded clothes, and open your house to the poor on holidays? When is the last time you gathered the homeless into your home, rather than people who can repay you, for the holidays like Christmas, Easter, or Thanksgiving?

I ask you these things not because I do them, but because this is what your life will have to look like in order to cause people, in our culture, to ask you why you do the things you do. If your life doesn’t look like this, then your using the reference to “be ready always to give an account” as a shield, and excuse for your blatant sin of not going to make disciples. Making disciples is not passive, Just look to Romans 10. It’s active, and if we’re not doing it, we’re actively living in sin.

Finally, as I close I want to revisit the point you made about Jesus early on:

He did get angry at the people that pretended to be religious and better than everyone else though.

Who do you think that street preacher was preaching to? Almost 80%, according to the last polls I looked at, of Americans claim to be Christian. Many of whom are: Glutinous, greedy, drunkards, who don’t share the Gospel, don’t love their neighbor, and can’t understand the first thing about the Word, love, or wrath of God, but are eager to point out the street preachers are all doing it wrong. Who do you think these open air preachers in America are preaching to if not a generation of hypocrites that are relying on a legalistic salvation of praying a prayer or being baptized as a baby?

Don’t get me wrong, there is no justification for being angry, and mean. And I wasn’t there, maybe he was completely out of line. But bear in mind, this preacher is preaching to exactly the sort of people that Jesus would have been angry at. Most of our “Christian” population today would throw Jesus himself out of their “temples” for being legalistic.

Rather than simply judging or only rebuking these teachers, we might pray for their efforts. Pray that in their obedience they gain boldness and confidence but have arrogance stripped from them. Pray that God keeps them humble, and that they would rely on His grace, not their own works for salvation. Pray that we, ourselves, would be given a spirit of boldness, rather than a spirit of judgment, fear, and hypocrisy. And as Jesus once commanded, Pray that God would raise up more workers for his harvest field.

I encourage you to be in contact with Eduardo as I said in the beginning. Further I hope that despite my own failings in presentation you hear what I’m trying to say, and do the most useful thing we can for God’s kingdom, repent of our sin so we might be useful, and start obeying his commands. Because as it is written, whoever says, “I know him”, but does not keep his commands is a liar and the truth is not in that person.

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