Two nights ago my family and I attended an outdoor cowboy "shootout" next to the Irma Hotel in Cody, Wyoming. This nightly event at 6:00pm is a hokey Wild West show put on by some street theater folks. They charge nothing for the event but do ask for charitable donations.
No sooner did the show end than another loud voice opened up behind the audience. A street preacher had set up a podium and was deriding various members of the audience and the cast. I listened closely.
With a Bible in one hand, he shouted at the one cowboy and called him a public drunkard. The bargirl was a "harlot". The audience in general participated in a show of evil and wickedness. At that, a member of the audience shouted back something at the preacher that I could not understand. He replied to her that she should keep silence. "A womans's place is in the home and that's where you should be," he shouted at her. She laughed and said something else mocking him. His reply to the audience in general, "Here is a rebellious woman!"
Next he selected a young boy in the audience. "Look at this young man wearing an AC/DC shirt!" I didn't catch the rest and frankly at this point stopped listening. My family and I walked away. The show was over and this follow-up "act" was one we didn't want to watch.
A half hour later he was still going at it as we walked back to our car. He was shouting at people to "read the Bible! Read the truth!"
After such a deriding who would possibly be motivated to read the Bible or anything else this man recommended?
But that's not the real problem here. There is a great deception going on. Although the words he spoke were Biblical, they were also out of context AND deceptive. Why?
Where in God's Word does God ever accuse a sinner of being a sinner? Where did Jesus ever shout someone down, point out their sin, and then try and witness to them?
The street preacher was out of context. No Biblical basis exists for his activity. God never calls anyone to go out into the world and call the world a hypocrite or a sinner. On the other hand, Jesus did go to the religious people and accuse them of such.
But folks on vacation, watching a Wild West show? This is not church, synagogue, or any kind of religious gathering. Frankly, this audience was set up. They were preyed upon.
The deception came about because although the preacher spoke the truth of God's Word, he did not speak the truth to this audience. Calling people "rebellious, harlot, drunkard" is just plain foolishness. Of course they are. They are the world. It's a statement of the obvious but not to them. They don't know any better. They are dead in their trespasses and sins. There is no awareness of sin in their lives.
The deception is placed in their minds regarding the face of the Christian church. The perception is that we are a bunch of Bible thumpers. The world sees a street preacher like this and just waits to trip him up at his own game, to find some fault in him according to his own doctrine.
A pastor once told me that today's church is its own worst enemy. He quoted that from a preacher that said it about 100 years ago. What do you think?