This past Thanksgiving, I took my daughter to a Dallas Cowboy’s game. It was the first time she had been to a game, the weather was perfect, she was excited (as I), and was eager to learn about football. The perfect opportunity for Dad-daughter bonding.
As we walked with others on a road approaching the stadium we stopped at a crosswalk. About twenty feet away on an adjoining sidewall, stood a man with a cardboard sign upon which was scrawled something to the effect that Jesus loves us and wants us to be saved.
I found him annoying.
I had spent a goodly sum for these tickets, wanted to enjoy this time with my daughter and take (I thought,) a well-deserved break from the every-day hassles of life.
I was a little offended.
He was preaching to me (we always make it about us,) and I was already a genuine believer. I turned to my daughter, and with a light-hearted tone shared my guess that he was ironically preaching to a crowd who had just come from church. Was he preaching to the choir? To be sure, one of the women in the group sounded off an encouraging “Amen!” to him.
I was a little embarrassed.
I had been taken be surprise, like the others who I assumed also just wanted to get to the game, and didn’t want that kind of confrontation. Wasn’t that just for church? I was in the mood instead for a confrontation with Redskin fans. And what about those of other faiths? Was it fair to confront them in this place?
I was on the alert for any errors. Was that the most effective way to get across the message? Was he doing more harm than good, was he turning off the crowd? Had they seen this scene so often that their ears were shut and their minds closed?
We have all seen street preachers. They come in a wide variety. The apocalyptic who speak of the end of the world; the judgmental who proclaim the consequences of the coming condemnation; the severely doctrinal who spout narrow (and sometimes absurd) views.
This man was none of those. He spoke mainly of love with an attitude of affectionate concern. His manner was sincere, not offensive, even polite. His approach was as appealing as a street preacher could be. Was he serving God? Sure.
Later my annoyance, offence, embarrassment, and questioning were replaced with appreciation and respect for a man carrying out God’s mission in a way that I had either not been gifted with or chose not to.