You may have seen the news report on Fox or read one of the many postings on Facebook these last few days about the Mayor of Houston demanding to have Pastors in the city hand over their sermons. Half of what you have heard is likely not true. Another half is probably unclear. The other half (you always get more than the real story second hand) is likely hype from either side of the issue. There is a problem in Houston, though. Actually, there are two problems. One problem is constitutional, no Pastors should be subpoenaed for their sermons. The other is related to the church in America, we must stop acting the complete opposite of Jesus while saying we represent Him.
The subpoenas were sent to five pastors, only five. That is five too many if you value free speech. The subpoenas were sent by pro-bono attorneys working on the issue for the city (Weiss, D.) not by the City Attorney or the Mayor. In fact, as the news has spread over the issue (an issue in the making for many months) Mayor Annise Parker and City Attorney David Feldman have taken steps to make it clear the subpoenas were too broad, unclear, and should not have been sent. So, why did they send the subpoenas to begin with in this case? Why is the city against these pastors and churches? What is going on in Houston?
The church in our nation, perhaps exemplified by these five pastors in Houston, is living in fear. They are motivated by fear of a government taking their rights. Should this be the case? History tells us that we should be very distrusting of an overly intrusive government. it always, historically leads to oppression of the people. Jesus tells us that the world will offer us a lot of trouble but we should be cheerful knowing that he has already overcome the world’s system(John 16:33).
I really like the way my fellow church planting pastor in Houston responded to this issue recently. Ryan Beaty of Village Houston called his church, friends, and family to a time of fasting and prayer for the leaders of the city. He did not host a rally against them. He did not invite people to pray against them. No, he cited Paul (I Tim. 2:2) is asking for this prayer on behalf of the leaders and the Christians involved (Eph. 6:18). Ryan is right, prayer is the first response. What did Jesus do after Judas left to betray him? He went to pray, with his closest friends. How did he respond to his accusers? He spoke with authority, like a lion, and humility, like a lamb. He was the lion in the lamb! This is who we should be also, since we have Jesus on the inside.
Will the church rise up? Will she be a beautiful bride? Will she reflect her Jesus well on the Earth? Will she be faithful to him and not run after the things of this world, including retribution? In our nation, it remains to be seen. We cannot allow our God given rights to be easily taken. However, in this case no rights of the church were violated by the original ordinance, as religious exemption was granted (Bailey,S.). We also cannot oppose the government without cause (Roms. 13:1-7) but must only do so only when the government calls for us to violate God’s ways in order to obey it’s laws (Acts 5:29).
So, I call on the church in America to rise up. Repent of not speaking God’s truth, not sharing his love, not being his hands and feet in this world. It is time we stop playing church with our programs, meetings, and events geared to make us feel good. God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble. Let’s humble ourselves and return to our God. Love the sinner so much that you love the hell right out of them and the heaven into them. It is God’s kindness that found you and I far away from him and brought us near through repentance (Rom. 2:4).
Give until everything is gone, serve until you cannot move a muscle, love until the broken pieces of your heart cannot even be put back together again. Jesus died for this world that we, who would trust in him, could live forever. Stop asking the world to cater to you. Jesus came to serve not to be served. Go serve those who need him. Jesus gave Judas the same care as the other eleven that night when he washed his feet and dined with him. So, go do it too. Serve someone you know will hurt you and try to destroy you afterward. Stop making politics equal to faith, it makes every Christian look foolish. Governments rise and fall, and ours is falling. We can restore it, but not in the courthouse. We must start at our house and the “church house” (2 Chr. 7:14). Rise up American church, to your knees and prayer for your leaders. Especially the one’s who seem to be using you for their own gain (Mt. 5:44).