October 15, 2014 by cbbeard
A news story broke yesterday that a number of ministers in Houston-area churches were notified that their sermons and other church communication had been subpoenaed. It all seems to stem from a controversial equal rights ordinance and the support and opposition of that ordinance by government officials and church leaders, respectively. As one can imagine, this legal action was incendiary, and the story has spread through social media like a wildfire.
Obviously this story is concerning for churches and Christ-followers in the United States. However, in the face of such controversy, I believe disciples of Jesus should take a deep breath and consider where our concern should be appropriately and biblically directed.
Here are three things we should be concerned about in regards to the Houston Sermon Subpoena Scandal:
1. God’s Truth.
Nobody really cares what I say. I’m just a lead minister of a small church in southeast Texas. However, I take very seriously the responsibility of proclaiming the truth of God’s word, knowing full-well that my sermons are readily available for anybody with an internet connection. I am diligent about preaching and teaching God’s truth with the Holy Spirit’s guidance and to the best of my abilities realizing that “the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing” (1 Corinthians 1:18). We cannot shy away from the importance and gravity of God’s truth, nor base our proclamation of that truth on whether people will like it or not. However, we also must be concerned with…
2. God’s Grace.
Nobody really cares what I say. I’m just a lead minister of a small church in southeast Texas. However, I take very seriously the responsibility of balancing the truth of God’s word with God’s unending grace, knowing full-well that my sermons are readily available for anybody with an internet connection. I am diligent about preaching and teaching God’s grace with the Holy Spirit’s guidance and to the best of my abilities realizing that we are called to “approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:16). My desire is to always communicate to anyone who hears my voice that Jesus is for you, not against you. In the words of Max Lucado* “God loves you just the way you are, but he refuses to leave you there. He wants you to be just like Jesus.” Being concerned with both God’s truth and God’s grace helps us to be concerned with…
3. God’s Mission.
God is engaged in a worldwide mission of redemption and reconciliation. God’s will is that he doesn’t want “anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). Do you know who “everyone” includes? It includes politicians who promote questionable laws and launch legal attacks against Christ-followers. So how should we react to such people? I’m not sure exactly, but perhaps Jesus meant what he said when he instructed us to “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44). Do you know who else “everyone” includes? It includes those who are watching this situation unfold from the outside looking in. It includes people in our neighborhood and on our Facebook friends list. And they are all watching to see how those of us who call ourselves by Jesus’ name will react. They are watching to see if our truth has any grace in it. They are watching to see if our stance has any love in it. And frankly, they are watching to see if our Christianity has any Christ in it.
Let us never be offensive in the way we present the Gospel, and yet never afraid to allow the Gospel to be offensive. Let us never shy away from God’s truth, yet never forget to cover that truth in God’s grace, just as Christ did. And let us never lose site that “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12).