This may sound shocking but I’m going to write it out, here and now. There is no need to get arrested while preaching the Gospel in America. That’s right. At this current time there is no need for anyone to go to jail for evangelizing. The time will come when that may have to happen, just not now. (Click here to start at PART 1)
Watch this recent encounter at the 2011 Pasadena Doo Dah Parade, when a police officer wanted me to stop preaching to the crowds lined up waiting for the parade to start. You’ll notice that when I hear the policeman interrupt my sermon with “Sir! Sir!” (off camera at the 2:30 mark), I lift up my index finger to ask him to let me finish my presentation. He did. Watch how I handled the situation. (Below, read the reason why I think Christians don’t need to be arrested. For now.)
There is a reason why American evangelists get hassled by police and carted off to jail. This is a general observation that may not apply to all heralds of the Good News, but it’s something I’ve seen way too often in the streets and in the press releases of Christian defense institutes. Too many evangelists suffer from……”Preaching Pride.” This is a malady that can sometimes manifest itself as arrogance which produces an entitlement mentality where our rights are concerned.
I’ve been guilty of this; maybe you have too.
There are great protections guaranteed to us by our Constitution, yet it’s quite understandable that Enforcers of the Law may not always understand those protections, those nuances of the First Amendment, and may even trample on them. Others may have more nefarious motives, like wanting to stifle our free speech on purpose because they do not like our message. Some may just be cranky on a given day and don’t want to hear you shouting at the top of your lungs atop a soapbox.
As Christians we are called to lay our rights down. We seem to forget that.
I read of one man who was standing on a sidewalk in Georgia shouting the Gospel out when an officer told him to stop, which was wrong. The preacher argued with the cop, who then arrested him. Wouldn’t it have made more sense to stop and move and preach somewhere else?
Every time we have been told to stop preaching our message by law enforcement, we would clarify their position, then move on, usually resulting in a bigger crowd elsewhere.
There will come a time when our rights will be clearly tread upon and we’ll have to take action. The time isn’t now.
Please continue to preach—and loudly.
But just be nice about it.