A recent topic that’s causing a lot of debate in the media and indigestion in the body of Christ is the city of Houston’s decision to subpoena the messages of preachers who live inside the city limits. The decision came after the city elected an openly lesbian mayor. There was of course a great push back by church leaders who felt like their constitutional rights were being violated. Like many people, I initially felt like this decision was unconstitutional and that it violates our right to free speech. I still view this action as being unconstitutional and I’m confident that in time, the order will be struck down.
But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that this could actually be a great opportunity to advance the kingdom of God. The opportunity these pastors have been given becomes obvious when you consider this fact:
God’s kingdom is advanced whenever His ambassadors successfully take the good news to a group of people who receive it as the truth.
One of the factors that determines where God’s kingdom is advanced is the access we have to groups of people. Christians have had poor results in their attempts to advance the kingdom of God in their local governments, largely because elected leaders are not interested in hearing our message. But in Houston we have city leaders who are actually demanding that church leaders send them their messages. I can’t think of a better opportunity to advance God’s kingdom than to be asked to send your sermons, blog posts, and videos to City Hall in the hope that someone will read or listen to them and the Holy Spirit will transform their heart.
The fear of having our messages scrutinized by public officials come from the fear that we might have our messages censored or be charged with a civil rights crime such as hate-speech. If we were to be perfectly honest, we must admit that some of the blame for all of this political wrangling falls on our shoulders. Politicians would not be interested in censoring our messages if they were messages of love. But because some of us are not preaching messages of love but hatred, our messages are being categorized as hate-speech. Christians would like to think that the gospel should never be considered hate-speech. But not all “messages of the gospel” stand on equal footing, and not all of them convey the gospel as it was revealed by Jesus.
The only reason one should fear that their message would be deemed hate-speech is if it conveys the idea that God hates a group of people, or that we should hate them. If this is your message, you ought to be fearful, and it’s very likely that you are not preaching the good news of the new covenant, but the law. The apostle Paul gave a nice summary of the ministry of the new covenant:
“Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.” (2 Cor. 5:18-19)
The good news of the gospel is that we have been reconciled to God through Jesus Christ, and God is no longer counting our sins against us. This message would come as good news to anyone who reads it. There is no way it could be considered hate-speech.
If I lived in Houston, I might just gather up 20 or 30 of my favorite blog posts, pray over them and send them to City Hall in the hope that someone’s heart would receive them as good news and that they would be drawn closer to God because of what they read. Divine opportunities don’t always look the way we expect them to. What the enemy intends for evil, God can use to advance His kingdom, but only if we’re wise enough to see the opportunity for what it really is.