Boldness or Brashness?
|GOOD NEWS. Paul Christian Faculin preaches against idolatry as devotees of the Black Nazarene pass by. Image and caption credit|
“We call this street preaching. We come here to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and against the sin of our nation… We want to give caution to everyone and reach out to the people willing to listen. Even if we get just one person to listen, we’ll be satisfied.” (Source: Rappler)
That’s how young preacher Paul Christian Faculin justified their “street outreach ministry” during the Black Nazarene procession yesterday. It was not the first time they did it. For four years already, “They go to other events they consider ‘sinful’ such as gay pride marches and ‘idolatry’ gatherings.” (Ibid)
|A so-called “street outreach ministry” during a recent pride march. Image credit|
Sadly this time they almost got lynched by the offended devotees. “Nazareno faithfuls grabbed their gospel tarpaulins and pushed them out of Liwasang Bonifacio.” (Ibid) Good thing cooler heads intervened. According to Faculin, “We get that treatment every year. But this year, it was really bad. Thankfully no one was injured… …We will continue doing this despite the negative treatment we get... until people repent from their sins”. (Ibid)
When I posted my disapproval of such “evangelistic strategy” on my Facebook page, I got mixed reactions. There are those who commended them and compared them to prophets of old, willing to die for the faith. Others criticized them and called for loving caution in proclaiming it.
But, one wonders, was it boldness or brashness?
A dictionary defined “boldness” as “showing an ability to take risks; confident and courageous” while “brashness” as “self-assertive in a rude, noisy or overbearing way.”
Now, I assume Faculin’s group was sincere, that they were committed to the faith. Yet, this is not an issue about their motives. This is an issue about their methods. They claim that they were actually proclaiming the gospel. But they appeared to people as merely protesting against the procession. Motives do not make methods right.
They may have thought that they were bold in doing so. But, whether they like it or not, they came off as brash.
As I’ve always said in this blog, we can be aggressive without being abrasive. We can be firm in proclaiming our faith but gentle in the way we declare it.
“And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness.” (ESV)
“but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect”.
In a debate, our manner is as important as our matter. How we proclaim is as important as what we proclaim. Note how Paul encouraged both in Colossians 4:4-6.
Pray that I will proclaim this message as clearly as I should. [What we proclaim or the matter] Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone. [How we proclaim or the manner] (NLT. Emphasis added.)
We are also to choose the right forum to proclaim the faith. Look at what the apostle Paul did in Athens.
While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols. So he reasoned in the synagogue with both Jews and God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there.(Acts 17:16-17, NIV. Emphasis added.)
Though provoked due to the rampant idolatry in that city, he chose the right place to talk about it. According to The Bible Knowledge Commentary
In that synagogue were Jews and God-fearing Gentiles. In the marketplace (agora, the center of civic life) where philosophers debated and presented their views, Paul reasoned … with those who happened to be there. (Emphasis added.)
The synagogues and the marketplace were no random places. They were strategic for sharing the faith. And, if I may add, a religious procession is not the right place to do it.
|Saint Paul delivering the Areopagus Sermon in Athens, by Raphael, 1515. Image and caption credit.|
I believe there’s a better way to present the Gospel. As Bill Hybels, senior pastor of Willow Creek, said, “Jesus taught and modeled a better way: to treat everybody with respect, to believe the best about others, to seek to understand other we might disagree and if we must disagree then attempt to do so respectfully.” (Read: Attract, Not Attack Part 2)
We can be both bold and gentle. But we cannot be bold and brash at the same time.