Holiday Jesus Freaks

Black Friday took on new meaning as a group of street preachers carried signs proclaiming hell fire and damnation to unrepentant holiday shoppers. And just in case people couldn’t read the signs, several in the group preached to passing pedestrians. A disgusted bystander yelled, “Get off the street Jesus freaks!”

The faithful, sign-waving contingent were mostly ignored by the very people they were desperately trying to save. Apparently, braving the cold and occasional verbal attack was worth it if even one soul was saved.

But I wondered about the collateral damage. For some, this confirms that Christians are just a bunch of crazy, sign-waving fanatics. Personally, it’s easier for me to share my faith over a cup of coffee.

However, a few centuries back, thousands lined the streets to listen to firebrand Jesus “freaks” like George Whitefield, Charles Spurgeon and William Booth.  

But as I observed today’s street preachers on the busy sidewalk, no one seemed interested in any revival message. Maybe hell used to scare people, but to many in our post-revival society everyone goes to heaven and hell doesn’t exist.

Jesus spoke about hell more than anyone else in the Bible but he didn’t badger or belittle people—well, except for those people who really annoyed him—the religious hypocrites. Jesus reached out to people first, recognizing their needs. And that’s where Christians should begin as well.

The street preachers meant well. It’s just they were preaching when they could have been reaching

But I haven’t done such a good job of reaching either. I thought about the lonely young woman who recently moved in next door, a grieving family who just lost a loved one, and a single mom without any extra time. 

My preaching probably won’t bring revival, but perhaps my reaching can.

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