I know the standard reply of the 21st Century Christian is to grovel and scrape before people with political power. We’re supposed to say: “Oh, I mustn’t do that? It offends you? Dreadfully sorry, sir it won’t happen again.”
Some of us, however, reject that script. Aggressively.
It is true, that historic Christians sometimes quietly accepted their execution, for the gospel’s sake. But that is not even close to being the only possible response to State overreach. No. Not in history, and not even among the apostles.
There are ways to push back, without undermining your own integrity and credibility. Polycarp was ordered to renounce his faith by denouncing the “atheists” (non-polytheists). He turned that around by denouncing the crowd’s unbelief, and then accepted his own sentence.
We saw bold defiance of the State with Paul. When he was arrested, and flogged, he played his “Roman Citizen” card. It was illegal to punish a Roman citizen who had not faced a trial. Look at Paul’s reaction to the Officials in Acts 16:
But Paul said to the officers: “They beat us publicly without a trial, even though we are Roman citizens, and threw us into prison. And now do they want to get rid of us quietly? No! Let them come themselves and escort us out.
This is the same Paul that read a crowd hostile to him in Acts 22, exploited the divisions between them, and turned one side against the other. Instead of their mutual aim of destroying Paul, they shifted gears into a tug-of war where half the room was defending him as one of their own.
Does these examples sound like the sniveling response that’s expected of us today? Not at all.
Now, with respect to the Houston mayor, and her hubris, we have a choice. We can fold our hands, hang our heads, and accept her backpedaling unapology. If so, she would face no real consequence for trampling the rights of citizens.
Or we could respond in a way that could actually get her attention.
Borrowing a page from their side’s political playbook, Alinsky’s rules (h/t Beck):
RULE 4: “Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules.” If the rule is that every letter gets a reply, send 30,000 letters. You can kill them with this because no one can possibly obey all of their own rules. (This is a serious rule. The besieged entity’s very credibility and reputation is at stake, because if activists catch it lying or not living up to its commitments, they can continue to chip away at the damage.)”
How might that help us? The subpoena demanded sermons.
Do you remember some years ago when the public was angry that “Jericho” was set to be cancelled in its first season? There was a very simple, but effective response. Everyone who disagreed with that decision sent in a package of nuts. Pretty soon, the place was bursting at the seams with packages of nuts.
If we want to be heard — truly heard — we’ve gotta be smarter about our reactions to things like this.
What do you suppose would happen if churches and pastors from clear across the country suddenly gave that mayor the Jericho response?
What if banker’s box after banker’s box, manilla envelope after manilla envelope, each packed full of sermons (large point font, double spaced, probably) were mailed to her office? New sermons. Old sermons. Sermons in English, or French, or Latin, or Japanese? Public domain sermons from long ago. Short ones, long ones. Good ones, lame ones.
Imagine all of those sermons converging by mail at her personal office. (Maybe even the office of the judge that actually granted the subpoena, too). Don’t you think THAT might get noticed?
And if it was me? I’d probably mail them C.O.D., just to get my point across.