The Folsom Street Fair is the largest sadomasochistic event in the world and the last place I ever envisioned preaching the gospel. In fact I was determined not to. Apparently, the Lord had other plans. You can read a little bit about how we ended up there here.
We made our way over to the fair, and in situations like this there is really nothing else to do but walk right into the thing and start offering people Christ. So that's exactly what Nate did. I marveled to see the courage of this 20 year old fearlessly preaching Jesus in the midst of the most difficult circumstances conceivable.
**Editorial Note: Young Christians, you do not have to 'try out the world' for seven years before you give it all up for Christ. You can have joy unspeakable now by simply laying it all down for the sake of the gospel :)
Sadly, it did not last long. Two police officers came over and explained that this would create a very difficult and dangerous situation for them and so they respectfully asked us to either move to the free speech zone or to cease all together. We struck a compromise where we agreed to preach right outside the entrance/exit of the fair. This worked out just as well, as all coming in and going out would have to pass by the glad-tidings.
Once we reached our new location I began preaching. It was an extremely powerful experience and it showed me the power of the gospel and the love of God in a way that I have never experienced before. Here's how:
I. I knew theologically that I was no better than any of those people I was preaching to - but the Lord made this clear to my understanding in a very profound way. Its hard to explain - but I just knew, in the depths of my being, that the only thing that made me different from them was amazing grace.
II. The above experience gave the preaching tremendous 'contextualization.' I was speaking to their consciences and they knew it. How? What possible worldview categories could I share with people who celebrate the most deviant and ghastly behaviors, devoting much of their lives to 'inventing new forms of evil' (Romans 1:30)???
As I said before, I knew was just like them. Yes, the power of sin has been broken in my life and I now have a principal in my members which wars against my corruption - but, alas, that corruption is ever present and it was not all that long ago when it reigned unchallenged. Simply put, I was speaking to them as a fellow sinner and not as a glorified saint. This gave them ears to hear.
**Editorial Note: Young Christians, you do not have to get tattoos, drink a bunch of beer, and cuss in order to contextualize the gospel to unbelievers. Rest assured that you share the same devilish nature with them; thus mortify your sin, live holy in Christ Jesus, and simply go tell the starving man about where you found the Bread of Life :)
III. I simply cannot comprehend the power of the gospel. The Lord shut the mouths of the Lions! Bless God, the gospel was going forth with such authority that it simply could not be shouted down. Countless times I would look up, see someone just about to rail me, and then simply put their heads down and walk away. As Kuyper reminded us, there is not one square inch in the universe of which the the sovereign Christ does not say "Mine!" Jesus was establishing His dominion - even over Sodom.
IV. The content and context of the message: Obviously, everything pointed to Christ - primarily as the giver of life. This was the great argument: They believed that their sexual deviance was the very definition of life - but I explained to them that it was rather the very shackles of death; and that they knew it.
When they lay in bed at night, they knew it. As they shuffled out of that fair, they knew it. As they got in their cars and drove home, they knew it. I could see it on their faces. They knew it.
The preaching was very much - and I can't quite explain it - but it was very much the Father rebuking wayward children. No, I am not theologically confused, somehow suggesting that unrepentant sinners are 'children of God' other than the fact that God did create them, and does love them - and He was definitely making His appeal through me to 'leave the pig stye and come home.'
V. Finally, and very importantly - the Lord completely protected us from all defilement. This is huge. He knows how to preserve His people in the midst of unimaginable sin. This was Nate's testimony as well. Not a single stain on our garments after swimming in a sea of filth. Only God!
As we were leaving - that was when the railing began. People started shouting all sorts of unspeakable things from the apartment buildings that towered above us. I turned to Nate and said "Blessed are you when people revile you and utter all sorts of evil against you on My account, for great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you" (Matt. 5:11-12). Nate said in return, "I feel like we just popped out of the book of Acts."
Amen. May it be so.