“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,”
I was greatly moved by a Facebook post from an old friend of mine. It was a picture of a man carrying a cross while walking along the road in North Dakota. He said that he passed him by while driving. Nothing more. Someone asked if he stopped to talk to him. My friend said no but that he wished he had.
My friend is getting close to God. I remember encounters like that.
Mark 12:34 And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And after that no one dared to ask him any more questions.
For some reason, I have always been attracted to people like this guy carrying a cross, even before God transformed me. Oh, sure, I blasphemed Jesus; but then again, I would stop to listen to public proclaimers. There was something so different about them than I had ever seen in a man before. Something I had never seen in a Catholic priest, in the religion of my youth. Certainly, the priests I knew devoted their lives to things of a religious nature, but they didn’t leave their cozy little nest. As far as I’m concerned, they were doing it for a paycheck because, apart from the routine, they did nothing. In fact, none of them even seemed to be excited about the ordinary routine of the Mass.
The street preachers, on the other hand, were on fire for Jesus! They genuinely believed. Not only that, but they really cared about me. They didn’t know me, but I could tell they were more interested in me that I was myself. They made fools of themselves, in the eyes of the world, just so that I might hear their message.
Think of this a moment. Catholics, Anglicans, Episcopalians, and many of the Lutheran denominations believe that baptism is the key to salvation. Oh, sure, they may have plenty of other rules about it, but baptism can be all that is required to be saved. Never mind knowledge about Christ or belief in his resurrection. Baptize the infants, and you’re good to go! But if that is the case, why don’t these churches dunk everybody, by force if need be? Wouldn’t it be better to hog tie and baptize someone than to let them end up in the lake of fire? Of course, it would! Then why don’t they do it? Because it’s baloney, that’s why. Talk is cheap.
Street preachers, on the other hand, put their neck on the line every time they go out knowing full well that not one single person might be saved. In fact, they get slapped, punched, and spit on regularly. They get thrown out of public places and arrested. They are despised by almost everybody. With this particular Facebook post, one guy (another old friend of mine) responded, “Religious nut. But whatever floats his boat is fine with me as long as he doesn’t cause problems.” That’s what the religious council told Peter and John.
Acts 4:19-20 But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.”
It took me twenty-five years after hearing my first street preacher before I was actually saved, but I was really impressed with Brother Jed when I heard his message. In fact, I admired him. I explained to my friends about his courage to do what he did. I didn’t have that kind of courage for ANYTHING, and I knew it. This guy had courage that didn’t come from himself. That was obvious to me. If that was true, then where did it come from?
So, I know exactly what was going on in my friend’s mind as he took courage to make his post. You see, he was taking a big chance by doing so. People would catch on that he was drawn to the message of this mysterious man carrying the cross in the middle of nowhere. They would become suspicious of him. They might not understand. No matter, he had to say what he had to say. The excitement of it was more than he could contain!
My hope is that my friend waits no longer and goes all-in very soon for Jesus. My biggest regret in life is that I didn’t say yes to Jesus’ call to me in college. If I had it all to do over again, I would have said yes, a long time ago.
Please pray for my friend.
Father, how fun it is to watch all this unfold before the whole world to see! I pray that one day, soon, my friend will be counted among the saved! Amen! Oh, and thank you for sending that man across North Dakota. What an honor! Amen.
Copyright © 2020 Scott Powers
photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald