18 January, 2007

I am informed that I am among the lost

I wonder if all public universities have these.

I was walking between the University Union and the stadium today, and I heard a booming voice reverberating off the walls of each. I had no idea the acoustics were so good there, but I guessed the cause before I could make out the words. A would-be evangelist was haranguing the crowds.

Well, not really. Had there been a crowd there, he would have made quite the impression, but the place was more or less empty. Rush hour must occur later than 11am. He was actually in a pretty good spot to catch the students who would arrive for lunch a little later.

He was a well-groomed gentleman, dressed handsomely in suit and tie. His hands gripped some papers, and as I say his powerful voice was booming, only in Jesus Christ is there salvation, the world cannot offer what Jesus offers, make him your personal Lord and Savior today, etc.

My path took me past him, so he turned down the volume and asked if I would like a gospel tract. His manner was most polite. He came across as an exceedingly pleasant fellow. No, thank you, I answered.

Only Jesus can offer you eternal life, sir, he persisted.

By this time I was passing by, so I turned my head to say something that I was sure would encourage him. With a smile, I said, I prayed to him this morning. I hadn't even finished the sentence, and he was warning me not to enter eternal life without the assurances given only in Jesus, his voice entering a sudden crescendo.

Eh, what?

He carried on with his attempt to shake the walls, untroubled by the notion that I might I have said something of substance. I shrugged, and carried on. Apparently, declining his tract sufficed to reveal that I wailed among the lost, rather than rejoiced among the elect. Later, when I returned, he was engaged in what sounded like a polite argument with a woman. A few more people were in the area by this time.

As I say, I wonder if all public universities have these would-be evangelists. NC State had a couple who hung out in the brickyard. An officemate reported that one (called THE Brickyard Preacher) often engaged in fireworks with hecklers. They would ask him questions like, "Will you go to hell for doing such-and-such?" They got a kick out of watching his eyes pop open and hearing him say, "Ohhhhhhh, dear God!" or something like that. I understand that things devolve pretty quickly from that point.

The other preacher didn't interest most people. He stood off by himself under a tree (the lowest spot in the area, actually) and read from the Scriptures in a loud voice. I respected that more, although I didn't care much for his choice of passages, or for his reading voice for that matter. Sometimes I saw him talking quietly and amicably with some students. I'd like to think that he had a little more success. If I'd talked with him, I'd know. :-/

Anyway, after learning that I, along with all the lost, am on the wide, easy path to destruction (coulda fooled me), I prayed to Jesus some more this evening. My family also read some scripture at dinnertime, as is our custom. Maybe there's some message for me in all this; the morning Psalms addressed God's abandonment of his people, and the scripture counseled us to test the spirits, lest we be deceived by "the spirit of the antichrist... who is already in the world".

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