Today my news feed blew up as my hometown of Houston in many ways declared war on many prominent churches. If you are late to the party, the city of Houston subpoenaed sermons and private correspondence of local churches that recently went head to head with the city over the issue of transgender citizens. In full disclosure, I am a suburban pastor who is not affected by this overstep of the government, but I do have a front row seat as one of the listed churches is just a stone’s throw from my house.
Living in Houston is very different than living in much of the Bible Belt. In Northern Texas and Oklahoma, much of Christianity is assumed into the common culture. It is not so here. Where Oklahoma is the Jerusalem of the Bible Belt, Houston is its Corinth. We are the port city that embraces cultures and lifestyles from around the world. The decisions of the mayor’s office were not a shock to us. I think all Houstonian pastors have seen the slow march of toleration that will eventually criminalize the church.
All of that said, it is not time to panic. We should not be surprised. I think for the first time in several generations God may be working to wake up His church. On this day I am not pessimistic. I am realistic that this may be the beginning of a longer road of persecution for us. I am not frightened. On this day the churches of Houston have the same hope that they have always had and that is in God who is greater than any government, cause, or people.
Much may change in the coming years in America, but I guarantee what matters will not.
1. God sits on His throne leading His people to their final redemption.
2. No nation will ever carry out a plan that God did not know and that He will not use for His glory.
3. The genuine churches in America will continue to serve God no matter what it costs them.
4. The word of God will be preached regardless of the consequences.
5. No matter what man may do, God will prevail.
Persecution is not new to the living church. In fact, God’s hand is most clearly seen when the world around us seems the darkest.
As the church was born in the first century persecution followed right behind. The first church subpoena was delivered by Saul. Scripture says that Saul “was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison.” How did the church respond? Scripture says “Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word.”
Today is not a day of despair for the church. It is a day of hope. American believers have lived gospel complacent lives for long enough. Through this persecution the church will arise, Jesus Christ will be proclaimed, and the hand of God will move in this city.