Faith

'You Are a Disgrace to Jesus!'

A group of men called people to repentance at the Democratic National Convention. Photo Credit: Tyler O'Neil, PJ Media.

“Stop being a sinner and obey Jesus!” “Homo sex is sin!” “Hell fire awaits!” Signs like these made a notable appearance at both the Republican and Democratic National Conventions, but it would truly have been a miracle if they brought any sinners closer to repentance.

Technically, the messages are biblically correct, but in practice they prove fundamentally tone deaf to a culture deeply in need of the love of Jesus Christ. There was something eerily accurate about the words of one Bernie Sanders protester who declared, “You are a disgrace to Jesus!”

The “Bible Believers” may not be affiliated with the Westboro Baptist Church, but their tactics of ostensibly preaching the Gospel are identical: Hold signs with controversial biblical messages, yell out of bullhorns, emphasize people’s sin and call them to repentance.

While these people do declare some biblical truths, they also provide unbelievers with the perfect rationale for completely rejecting the message: this is hateful. Indeed, while “preaching” at the DNC one of these men attacked one woman he did not know as a “sl*t,” insisted that her brother did not love her, and declared, “Shame on you!”

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There is a persecution we are called upon as Christians to accept, but Jesus did not call us to assume people are unbelievers and insult them into submission. Especially as repentant sinners ourselves, Christians are called to be humble. Yes, we denounce sin, but we do so from a posture of grace and humility, knowing our own sinfulness and the awful price of our redemption.

Next Page: If this is the wrong way to preach the Gospel at such events, what is the right way? Carl Breidenich from Dallas, Texas, provided a strong contrast to the “Bible Believers.” This man stood in the public square outside the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, with a sign asking, “How can I pray for you?” “I am nothing. Jesus Christ is it all. If there is any good in me, it’s through Jesus Christ. My righteousness is rags,” Breidenich told PJ Media in an interview. “My agenda is Jesus Christ and Jesus alone. I just want people to know the good news of Jesus Christ.” Breidenich contrasted himself with the “Bible Believers,” calling them “the haters.” He agreed with their message — “Yes, we’re all sinners.” — but he emphasized that only the love of Jesus can convince an unbeliever to repent. “The only way that I am going to lead somebody to Jesus Christ is to show Jesus’ love — the love of Jesus Christ through me,” he said. Unlike the bravado of would-be preachers, he emphasized his own weakness and need for Jesus: “I can’t do it, only Jesus can.”

Both conventions featured protesters with Christian messages. Some warned of nations that forget God.

Others emphasized the importance of God giving men and women “a new heart,” to cure such sinful attitudes as racism, blaspheming, slandering, gossiping, and murder.

But the one man whose message most reflected the Gospel and who perhaps had the best chance of bringing an unbeliever to the faith didn’t have a bullhorn. He didn’t stand on a soap box to deliver his message, and he didn’t have a sign quoting scripture or declaring America’s doom without God.

There was a booming crowd, declaring scriptural judgments. There was a vivid sign warning about godlessness. There was a preacher using a bullhorn, declaiming our need for a new heart.

But God was not in the booming crowd, or the vivid sign, or the preacher’s bullhorn. Then there was a still small voice, a man praying for anyone who would ask.