DANGEROUS PLACES TO PREACH THE GOSPEL
The Lord told us to ‘go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel.’ We call that the ‘great commission’. Where is that? Where isn’t that? Are we truly going ‘into ALL the world’ or have we narrowed it down to only the SAFE places?
I have not seen many going to the bars at one a.m. and preaching there against ‘alcoholism’, and offering Jesus as the Real Answer. I have seen a few, and the salvation of souls seems surprisingly large when they do.
I have not seen many go to the brothels, or to the street where hookers offer their services to those driving past looking for such women. I have an idea that if some did, they may be surprised how many are desperately hoping God would forgive and cleanse them from that lifestyle.
I have not even found many going to hospitals where people in waiting rooms are desperately wanting prayer for a sick or dying loved one. The gospel message there to souls open due to their crisis could result in many being willing to listen to a message of hope.
There are not too many who venture near the homosexual party bars. There those with the un-Biblical idea that it is right, is not where many go and preach the gospel. Even if done in a Biblical, loving, not condemning way, the sermon for Jesus, for Biblical family values is quite unpopular, and mostly left un-evangelized.
Jails where murderers are still going to court and lying that they are not guilty, is not a place where many go and preach ‘thou shalt not kill’. Sporting events where the losing crowd are uttering blasphemies and curses in their anger at their team losing is not where many set up a soapbox to preach against sins of the tongue. Super bowl Sunday is not a time when crowds of Christians gather to hold up banners, with sayings like ‘did you attend church today first and worship your Lord?’
No, those kind of things are rare, and the ‘go ye into all the world’ has been narrowed down to ‘go ye into the pulpit of your safe little unattended by sinners church’, and there we preach ‘Jesus, the Answer’.
Not enough even preach the gospel in the voting booth, and preach that Godly principles make one superior to those with the world’s ethics.
Where are we preaching the gospel? Can you imagine the most DANGEROUS PLACE to preach Jesus?
Jesus ate with publicans and sinners, and was sometimes challenged, but in reality was invited back, and sometimes had converts, and offered deep teachings to them. Not too dangerous a place for Him, but some in this day if ever in a banquet with sinners, do not even wear the ‘cross’ symbol on their lapel. Scared to mention Jesus, ethics, the ten commandments, the Bible, church, and any known evangelist in such a crowd, the sermon usually offered is ‘these are great snacks you have prepared, thank you.’
Jesus preached the gospel to two thieves hanging on the crosses near Him. One was saved, one went to hell. But He preached. He was in a dangerous place, and could have irritated those crucifying Him more, but He prayed that God would forgive them, preached a ‘it is finished’ triumphant message, and was offered ‘gall’, did not have His bones broken as was typical, and many called out during that time... ‘surely this is the Son of God’.
Where was the most dangerous place Jesus preached? Several times it was in the Temple, in the midst of the ‘religious’. They wanted to stone Him one time while there, they wanted to push Him off a precipice another time. The religious crowd seems to be the most threatening place to preach Jesus’ message yet today.
In the religious world, still today, the message of Jesus, the sermons sourced from the Bible, seem to stir anger, hatred, name calling, false accusations, and one’s person is attacked more there than in the bars, on the streets, in the parties of the world. Your neighbor will be more loving as you preach to them about Jesus, than the Pharisee in the front row of your church.
The religious community attacked some great leaders in the church when they failed God, and sermons on forgiveness then were hated, and sermons on the judgment of God flourished in the same crowd. Not many wanted the message that Jesus was trying to inspire then. The same is true when many fail God yet, and instead of lovingly pointing out the flaw in their walk, but seeking to lift up the fallen and restore them to Jesus, the message is hatred and attack. The true sermons of Jesus in such times are dangerous to preach.
Where is the most dangerous place to preach the gospel? It is ‘in the church’. You may say, ‘Well we preach it there every week’‘. No, that is not often true. There are sermons every week. We hear sermons preached against sins not present in the church. We hear sin condemned, as long as it is not the sins that are present there, like sins of the tongue, sins of anger and unforgiveness, sins of pornography and homosexuality and abortion, and pride... etc. are not preached. Sins of not smiling at your neighbor, not bringing in cans of dated food to give to some hungry person, are preached. But, the hungry person has to come and beg to get the canned food, for no one wants to go to the part of town where they live.
The gospel message that needs preached is one that will wake up a comatose, sleeping, hiding church. That sermon is a dangerous one to preach. Where is the most dangerous place to ‘go into all the world’? It is in the sanctuary of your church!
There is an old story told of a man who went to candidate for the office of pastor in a church in another state. When he arrived, he was met by the church trustees, who told him not to preach against tobacco, for some of the members were tobacco farmers; not to preach against alcohol, for some of the members had their own stills; not to preach against pornography, for one of the members owned a magazine stand; not to preach against adultery, for one of the members was living with a woman not his wife; not to preach against murder for there was an unsolved crime in town, and one of the members was under suspicion. The list went on and on. The pastoral candidate finally asked: ‘What can I preach against?’ The trustees thought and thought, which sin could even be mentioned in this church! Finally, they came to agreement. ‘You can preach against the Jews, we don’t have any of those.” Well, being a Jew in itself is not a crime. Some even have accepted Jesus as the Messiah.
Why then is there such a list of ‘no no’ mentions in the church? One saying, my father used to use often, is that: SOME PEOPLE LIVE SO CROOKED, YOU CAN’T PREACH ANYTHING STRAIGHT WITHOUT HITTING THEM.’
In some churches this is so true. In these Christian communities, if you mention ‘hell’ you are scolded or shunned. If you mention ‘judgment of the church’ you are black-balled. If you mention ‘repentance’ you are marked as a old fashioned, dated, judgmental bigot. The language is abusive, the hatred is unmasked, the vicious attempts to discredit are undisguised.
Jesus was crucified due to the false charges brought by religious people. It was in the Temple, by the religious leaders, that a betrayal of Jesus was purchased. It was the religious leaders who paid some to lie in the trial. It was the religious leaders who organized an illegal trial to convict Jesus. It was the religious leaders who kept the pressure on with false accusations, intimidating pressure on Pilate, until the crucifixion orders were given.
Today, likewise, the place where it is most dangerous to preach the real gospel is in the church, in the Christian communities. Surely, the world does not like to hear about sin either, but to the sinners of the world we offer Jesus as the Answer. To the church, it is Jesus Who is wanting to come in and ‘sup’, but the possible hearers have the door locked to Him. Anyone in the midst of them that wants to mention the obvious sins of the religious crowd, are in danger of spiritual crucifixion too.
Jesus said ‘take up your cross and follow’. He expects us to have opposition as He did. Some Christians keep quiet, do not preach the gospel to anyone, do not mention hell fire, do not talk of repentance. It makes them more popular in the church, but makes them useless in the mission of the church, to spread the real gospel of Jesus.
Lullabies are good for putting children and saints to sleep. What is sometimes needed is a warning trumpet to wake up sleepy, apathetic, distracted, and misled saints. Lullaby sermons are common, pablum diets are the norm, and the ten virgin parable of the whole church being low in oil, and sound asleep, is being illustrated for us in our churches.
Can you imagine? Oh, never mind, don’t imagine, just look around!