Posted by: Truth and Consequences 101 | March 25, 2012

Pride Fest: Encounters with the cross

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This morning, I had the privilege of attending Lake Worth’s annual Pride Fest parade with my brother-in-Christ, Greg Pursell. We met for breakfast, Scripture reading and prayer beforehand, then drove down to Lake Avenue for the event, which was anticipated to draw about 15,000 people celebrating the homosexual lifestyle.

We both had our “Are You Ready?” crosses, and after a word of prayer together, took positions across the street from each other among the crowd.

The parade lasted about 45 minutes. In that time, and in the half hour before the parade began, I had four different types of encounters with the cross.

First, curiosity. Several people approached me and asked the natural question, “Ready for what?” I greeted them and then handed them an “Are you ready?” tract from my good friend and brother, Paul Latour, in Ottawa, Canada. Two women standing next to me engaged me in conversation, asking if I was there to condemn homosexuality. I assured them that, as a thrice divorced man myself, I was by definition an adulterer, so no, I wasn’t there to condemn anyone.

But I did point out that I was guilty of many other things, too, such as lying, stealing, blaspheming and lust. All of these things, I shared with them, were violations of God’s commandments, and made me guilty before God, irrespective of sexual preference. Each of these ladies agreed that they, too, were guilty of these violations, so I was able to share the law and then the good news of the gospel with them, albeit briefly.

As the parade began, I noticed a second type of encounter: conviction. Several people in the parade, reacting to the cross, shouted out, “Ready for what?” and “I’m ready, are you ready?” Greg and I had already decided that we were not going to respond verbally, as this would likely be interpreted as provocative in an already energized crowd. The cross was provocative enough.

A couple of people approached me to offer me strings of rainbow colored beads, which I accepted with thanks, then handed them to a gentleman standing next to me who accepted them from me.

It was here also that I had my first physical confrontation, which was mercifully brief. A very angry young woman approached me and reached up to put a string of purple beads over my cross. I elevated the cross to prevent this, and she grabbed it, pulling it down.

She pointed to it and said, “That’s offensive!” Then she pointed at me and said, “You’re offensive!” (She didn’t even know me, and I couldn’t disagree with her!)

As I held onto the cross, I prayed briefly that no one would be injured by this 4’ by 3’ wooden object, especially the angry woman pulling at it. Fortunately, she let it go and released the beads, which I again handed to my neighbor. She walked away and rejoined the parade. As my heart rate dropped closer to normal, I received a “thumbs up,” a smile and a nod from a woman on a motorcycle riding a short distance behind the angry parader. I smiled back gratefully.

People are always trying to add things to the cross. Usually it’s their own efforts; they refuse to acknowledge the sufficiency of Christ’s death on the cross in their stead, that He bore the punishment each of us deserves, and by His death and resurrection, He purchased our eternal redemption. His sacrifice is sufficient and efficient; all our self-righteous deeds are merely cheap, worthless beads (Isaiah 64:6).

A third encounter was condemnation. This came from an elderly man named Rob who approached us after the parade had passed. He had been sitting across the street and made a beeline for us.

“What’s that mean?” he asked, pointing toward the cross. I gave him a tract, which he scanned briefly, then tore it up slowly as he told us, “You’re giving Jesus a bad name. You’re here to condemn all these people that Jesus loved. He loved everybody. I think you’re a disgrace to the faith.”

I thanked him for coming over, and asked him if he thought that God was holy and just. I asked him if he knew WHY Jesus died on the cross. I asked him what he was doing to reach the lost; those poor, stricken souls who might die in their sins and face the judgment of God without hearing from him the sacrifice that Christ, fully God and fully man, endured on that bloody cross for their sins so that they might inherit eternal life.

He scowled and walked away, ignoring my request to discuss the issue further.

Finally, we encountered encouragement. I have already mentioned the friendly affirmation I received from the lady on her motorcycle. I thanked God for her kindness to me. After the parade we were approached by a gentleman who had started a church in Lake Worth. His name is John Henry and his church is Common Ground (www.cgclw.com). He and other members of his church were going through the crowd handing out tracts and business cards, promoting Easter service at Common Ground, which had outgrown a local restaurant and was now drawing 150 people to a local elementary school.

We enjoyed a few minutes of fellowship and prayer. I thanked him for his labors in Lake Worth and told him we travel to Lake Avenue once or twice a month to proclaim the gospel in the evening. He was gracious and kind, and I am honored to labor with him in the harvest fields in one of my favorite towns.

“And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to me.” Truly the cross is an offense. It’s even an offense to me, a grisly reminder that my transgression against an infinite and holy God was so extreme that God Himself had to bear the punishment.

And yet, the cross is a glorious reminder that I am free; freed from my guilt, shame and condemnation. “If any man is in Christ, he is a new creation! The old has passed away, the new has come.”  What a glorious truth! What a marvelous Savior!

 

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Responses

  1. I am encouraged by your boldness! I saw your post on Paul Latour’s blog. May God continue to use you in this great task of soul-winning!


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