JERUSALEM, ISRAEL – I have never met Sarah Willis, a British woman who describes herself as a Christian.
Nor had I ever heard of her until her recent videos went viral.
Perhaps she and her missionary colleagues mean well.
Then again, perhaps they want to feel – and look – “persecuted” so that they can get 13 million views or more on different social media accounts.
Not knowing them, I cannot judge their motives.
But having watched their videos, I can address their methods.
Preaching the Gospel message through a bullhorn in Jerusalem’s Jewish Quarter is not operating in love or wisdom.
Nor is videotaping yourself infuriating Jewish people on their only quiet day of rest.
Nor is posting such videos on social media knowing that you will further infuriate Jewish people in Israel and around the world.
Nor is posting such videos that will infuriate Gentiles against Israel and the Jewish people.
This is not being loving and wise.
It’s unkind and self-seeking.
“We’re not trying to disrespect anybody. Quite the opposite. We love them [Israeli Jews],” Miss Willis told an ALL ISRAEL NEWS reporter.
She also says that she has been coming to Israel for some years now out of a desire to share her beliefs with the Jewish people.
Why then is she being so rude and disrespectful?
Every person on Earth – Jewish or Gentile – has both the need and the right to at least hear the message of Jesus’ love, miracles, wisdom, death, resurrection, and promise of eternal salvation for everyone who truly repents of sin and receives his free gift of forgiveness and atonement.
How can people call on the Messiah of whom they have not heard?
How can they hear if no one tells them the good news of Yeshua’s life story and purpose?
But there is a humble, loving and winsome way to tell people of any religious background – or no religious background – eternal biblical truths.
And what Miss Willis and her colleagues are doing does not qualify.
Is it illegal in Israel to share the Gospel with people 18 and over?
No, it’s not.
Contrary to some media reports, Israeli law protects everyone’s freedom of religion and freedom of speech.
That’s one of the strengths of Israeli democracy.
But just because something is legal doesn’t make it useful, effective or kind.
This is exactly what the Apostle Paul teaches in the New Testament.
“‘I have the right to do anything,’ you say—but not everything is beneficial. ‘I have the right to do anything’—but not everything is constructive.” (I Corinthians 10:23, NIV)
Miss Willis and her colleagues may protest that they are “not ashamed of the Gospel for it is the power of salvation for everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Gentile.” (Romans 1:16)
Yet I encourage them to reflect on how the Apostle Paul taught us to teach the good news to others.
“To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law.” (I Corinthians 9:20)
Using a bullhorn to shout at Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox Jews on the Sabbath isn’t exactly in keeping with becoming like the Jews “to win the Jews,” or becoming like one under the law, “so as to win those under the law,” is it?
If they really are sincere followers of Jesus the Messiah and truly want to make a difference – not attract millions of social media views – I also encourage Miss Willis and her colleagues to meditate on and truly embrace another New Testament passage written by the Apostle Paul, the greatest Jewish communicator of the Gospel in human history.
“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking….” (I Corinthians 13:1-5)
Joel C. Rosenberg is the editor-in-chief of ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS and the President and CEO of Near East Media. A New York Times best-selling author, Middle East analyst, and Evangelical leader, he lives in Jerusalem with his wife and sons.