Rude Witnessing

I was going merely to write a comment, but then I decided to reblog Anthony’s post with further comment.

I have been reading Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas. (Finally. I have had the book for quite a while, only getting through the first couple of chapters. This past month I started over!) In chapter 19 (pp. 292-293) is this incredibly apropos quote from a letter Bonhoeffer wrote in the spring of 1937:

“Do not give dogs what is holy; and do not throw your pearls before swine, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you” (Matt. 7:6). The promise of grace is not to be squandered; it needs to be protected from the godless. There are those who are not worthy of the sanctuary. The proclamation of grace has its limits. Grace may not be proclaimed to anyone who does not recognize or distinguish or desire it. Not only does that pollute the sanctuary itself, not only must those who sin still be guilty against the Most Holy, but in addition, the misuse of the Holy must turn against the community itself. The world upon whom grace is thrust as a bargain will grow tired of it, and it will not only trample upon the Holy, but also will tear apart those who force it on them. For its own sake, for the sake of the sinner, and for the sake of the community, the Holy is to be protected from cheap surrender. The Gospel is protected by the preaching of repentance which calls sin sin and declares the sinner guilty. The key to loose is protected by the key to bind. The preaching of grace can only be protected by the preaching of repentance.

In other words, we must preach repentance for grace to be received. We should do it holding to peace, but the message will offend. We must not be rude, but we must not shove it down their throats either, lest they hate the Gospel because of the messengers. And if there is no repentance with grace, grace becomes meaningless to those who need it. (Everyone)

It is not only street preachers who can be guilty of committing both of these sins. It is also pastors with their congregations, Christians with each other, and Christians who wish to compromise with the world to keep a friend. (And I have been all of these.)

May we keep a watchful eye on our world, on each other as Christians, and – especially – on ourselves, through washing by the Word and the changing of our minds (Eph. 5:26, Rom. 12:1-2), which is true repentance.


The Recovering Legalist


There are some people in the Christian world who think making people angry is doing God’s work. Some Christians are convinced that they are fulfilling the Great Commission by crashing public events and barking out, “Repent! Repent!” In reality, many just come off as being inconsiderate, impolite, and obnoxious.

In defense of their actions, many street preachers and their followers (but not all) have suggested the following points:

  • “The Gospel is more important than ______.” (whatever is going on that is being interrupted, such as music, fireworks, etc.)
  • “We’re here to get sinners saved, not to make friends.”
  • “100 years from now the crowd will forget [the event], but they will be happy they heard the Gospel.”
  • “The Gospel (and Bible in general) is supposed to offend. Jesus said, ‘They hated me, so they’ll hate you.’ Jesus never held back when He talked to the Pharisees, did…

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