Today in Elizabeth Street Mall I encountered a first. A counter protest against my preaching! While it was organised by others Mr S. was front and centre as the cheerleader for the “Yes” campainers. This was a fantastic opportunity but was also very stressful.
The day began with a group SSM advocates with signs standing and sitting in front of me. I began to preach from John 3:16-17 and expained that God showed His great love for all people. Again and again I emphasised the lostness and brokenness of people everywhere. The invitation to repentance and faith in Jesus comes if you are gay or straight, rich or poor, employed or not, famous or anonymous. I was able to begin with a clear presentation of the gospel a number of times over. Towards the end of this someone began to ask questions about SSM and over the course of the hour the question came thick and fast from all quarters. During this time Mr S. alternated between vitriolic rants and wandering through the crowd encouraging the counter protesters and spreading lies about my integrity, my motivations and my methods. Many of the interactions were cordial and I am very thankful to the folk who were able to speak reasonably. I am also thankful to the Tasmanian police who were standing nearby and to the SSM protesters that things did not get out of hand as they have at other counter protests by “Yes” advocates.
At the end of the first hour of the afternoon and there was lull and I was able to preach the gospel again. It is wonderful that so many people had gathered to hear what was happening. So many people who are currently opposed to Christian doctrine sitting or standing to hear the gospel of salvation by faith proclaimed!
After this we took a one hour break, during this time a quite a number of people came to show their support for what we were doing. Mr S. had booked this hour and so we left him to advocate for his position, which he was doing loudly as I moved away.
In the second hour of the afternoon there were less counter protesters and I could preach the gospel for quite some time before the questions and heckling took over. I spoke from Luke’s account of Jesus’s crucifixion and the way that Jesus’s death shows us our sin deserves from God and the determination of Jesus to save people from that judgment. There were a moderate number of people listening as I preached and but after a period of heckling and ranting there was a large crowd gathered. The heckling came mostly from Mr S. but also one or two others in the crowd.
Mr S. has a habit of trying to paint me as a moral evil in Hobart and brings up my many mistakes to achieve this end. I don’t mind this at all, I preach that I am a saved needy sinner pointing unsaved needy sinners the way to life. I am not a perfect man and have failed in many ways, I will continue to fail in many ways. This is the Christian life, we do wrong and sin still after we come to faith in Jesus. The essence of the Christian response to this is to hate the sin, confess the sin, and seek the saviour in faith that He will save us.
This by the grace of God has been my path for the last 30 years and by His grace will be my path until my death. God’s love in Jesus Christ covers my sin and I can come boldly to my heavenly Father knowing He loves me. This is God’s work not mine, I cannot earn His love, He sought me and bought me with His blood when I was His enemy! This great gospel I was able to preach another couple of times before closing for the afternoon.
Praise God for His faithfulness in trials!