‘All things bright and beautiful, all creatures great and small’. So sang the man as he got onto the train at Liverpool Street. For the next 5-10 minutes, until he got off the train at Stratford, this man preached to everyone in the carriage. Initial requests of ‘Can you be quiet please?’ changed after a while to requests of ‘Can you shut the [insert word here] up’. ‘Turn to Jesus’ was the man’s main message and, until it started to get a bit odd towards the end, a lot of what he said was true. As a Christian on the train, I sat there trying to think what I should do. What I did do was sit there head down, looking at my phone, praying that God would be at work in the situation. One person did try and ask him a question, but sadly he didn’t talk to her, instead he continued to talk at everyone. When he got off at Stratford, I’m pretty sure everyone (myself included) breathed a sigh of relief.
A number of Bible passages have been rattling around in my head since this train journey. The first is from 1 Peter 3:15-16
Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.
Someone had tried to ask this man a question, but he didn’t try and engage them in a conversation. It takes bravery to do what he did, but my initial thought was that if you’re going to be so bold, it’s got to be a dialogue, not a one-way diatribe. We read in the Bible about people hearing but not understanding (e.g. Isaiah 6:9), or being hard-hearted, and I can imagine that many people in that train carriage were plugging their ears (metaphorically and literally) as this man was talking at them to block out what he was saying.
But this is easy for me to say as a Christian who was sitting there in silence. In those few minutes, more people probably heard something of the Good News than have ever heard it from me. My daily Bible readings that day had started a new series from Ezekiel, and in chapter 2, as Ezekiel is told to be a prophet, God says to him:
“Say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says.’ And whether they listen or fail to listen—for they are a rebellious people—they will know that a prophet has been among them.” (v4-5)
I’m not going to start preaching to my fellow passengers, but maybe I shouldn’t be sitting there in silence either…
Image Credit: Dan Roizer