I’ve heard the scuttlebutt. I’ve seen the eyes roll. I’ve even been asked this question in regard to my preaching in the open air at unconventional places: “Steve, what’s the difference between what you do and what that crazy “Jesus Guy” does?”
The Jesus Guy, is a little strange and every city has one.
Ours haunts a local market wearing tinsel and signs and funny hats.
Our Jesus Guy drives a strange vehicle with “Jesus” and “Holy” and red ribbon all over it.
To the non-Christian there is no difference between him and me. To the lukewarm Christian who has no passion for the lost, I have to admit, that to them, there is no difference between him and me. I’m just another Jesus freak. A kook. A crazy. “What good does all your preaching do anyway?” they ask. “You’re just bothering people…”
I sometimes wrestle with my image; I know how I must look to “outsiders”; I know how I must sound. I used to be on the other side of the fence, pointing my finger and wagging my tongue. Now I’m one of them.
I do what I do because I trust that God’s Word will never return empty, but will accomplish what God desires, and will achieve the purpose for which He sent it (Isaiah 55:11); God’s Word is living and active, sharper than any double-edged sword, and penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joint and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart (Hebrews 4:12); God’s Word is spirit (John 6:63) and gives eternal life (John 6:68). Trusting in these facts gives me the confidence to do what I do.
That’s why after preaching in front of the Nokia Theater, I had to go back and preach to the people who had been standing in line for six hours under the hot sun hoping to get into the American Idol finals!
My voice was hoarse and my face was red, but I had at least two more sermons in me. My faithful friend, Umberto, trooper that he is, was game, shooting photos and handing out Gospel tracts alongside me.
Though bushed, I jumped back into the hedge where I had preached previously.
“You already preached to us!” someone shouted.
“That’s okay,” I replied. “You need to hear it again.” This time though, I had a heckler. For two straight minutes a lady screeched over and over, “Peace and love! Peace and love! Peace and love!”
Ignoring her, I raised my voice like a trumpet and warned that anyone who broke any of God’s 10 Commandments—if anyone had ever lied, or stolen, or blasphemed God’s name, or lusted in their hearts—then God would see them as lying, thieving, blasphemous, adulterers-at-heart. On Judgment Day they would be found guilty and end up in Hell.”
“Peace and love! Peace and love! Peace and love!”
As I spoke of the good news, of the peace and love God provided by sending His son, Jesus, to die for our sins if they’d only repent and believe, Jane Fonda faded away around the corner.
I hoped her message would be remembered, especially when the tickets ran out, since I noticed that there were only about fifty left—and she was about number eighty in line.
Next I hopped onto the stool for my last sermon: in another driveway at the L.A. Convention Center.! “We’ve already heard this!” someone yelled.
“That’s okay! You need to hear it again!” People looked hot and bothered; I was hot and tired. I started my sermon intro: “I’m not out here for my health, ladies and gentlemen. As you can see, I’m not wearing a hat and I forgot my sunscreen…” Suddenly danger! A big black truck barreled down the pavement… toward me!
“Kill him! Kill him!” people screamed at the driver. “Run him over! Run him over!”
I casually and cautiously picked up my stool, giving the crowd a C’mon, really! look, then, set up on the sidewalk and resumed my preaching—out of harm’s way—while the truck drove past.
When it was clear, I picked up my stool and went to the center of the pavement. The “Jesus Guy” continued to preach on and on, much to the consternation of the line-waiters.
So to answer your question: “What’s the difference between what you do and what that crazy “Jesus Guy” does?” Uh, no difference, really, except for the tinsel. Depends on your perspective.
And “What good does all your preaching do anyway?”
At the end of the day, after preaching on steps, in driveways, on the street, and in the hedges, close to a thousand American Idolaters heard the Gospel message. Did anyone fall to their knees and get saved? Nope. That’s God’s business.
I just obeyed His command to “Go!”
George Whitefield (1714 -1770), the great open air preacher during The Great Awakening wrote:
“I never was more opposed and never met with so great success. I hope I shall learn more and more every day, that no place is amiss for preaching the Gospel. God forbid that the Word of God should be bound because some deny the use of churches! The more I am bid to hold my peace, the more earnestly will I lift up my voice like a trumpet, and tell people what must be done in them before they can be saved by Jesus Christ.
“Let the love of Jesus constrain you to go out into the highways and hedges to compel poor sinners to come in.”