Benjamin Franklin: “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”
When I was taking flying lessons to get my private pilot’s license, my instructor pilot made me do a lot of things I hoped I never had to do: land the plane with the engine shut off; bring the plane out of a spinning dive, and anticipate an engine failure on take-off! Yikes! Fortunately, in real life, I never had to face any of those situations. But others did. The key point is – I was prepared if any of those events occurred. I had confidence because I was prepared.
In my book, A Pastor’s Pit, Pastor Preston Curtis is indicted for the crime of religious hate speech because he said Muslims did not trust Christ as Savior, and therefore they were “going to hell”. There are a number of Biblical positions that are not culturally popular today. In this age of “cancel culture” and failure to engage in dialogue, I believe the next step in the progression of suppression of religious liberty is to try to silence our spiritual leaders (pastors, priests, rabbis, etc.). Our pastors need to be prepared for such an attack against themselves personally and against their church. Because we have been blessed in America with religious liberty protections in our Constitution, we assume that right and protection will always be present. However, U.S. Supreme Court decisions over the years have sent mixed signals – sometimes those religious liberty rights are protected and other times they are not. How can our pastors be prepared?
- Be prepared so you won’t be surprised when the attacks come.
a. Prepare Yourself. If you get a call saying the District Attorney is going to indict you for religious hate speech (as happened to Pastor Curtis in A Pastor’s Pit) if you preach that marriage is between a man and a woman (or some other controversial topic), how will you respond? Will you say you must stay true and preach all of scripture, or will you say that you can skip preaching on those topics? Practice how you would respond. Be “prepared to make a defense.” (1 Peter 3:15). Will you hire an attorney? How will you explain this to your family, or church? What actions will be available to you? Are you prepared for a media blitz? Is the community of pastors prepared to assist in publicly defending you? Be prepared!
b. Prepare your church family. In A Pastor’s Pit, Pastor Preston Curtis’ church family was divided. Was the pastor not demonstrating the love of Christ in his statements? Others would say, “he is standing on the truth of the Bible!” Have you warned your church members that their pastor may be attacked for preaching the truth of the Bible? Have you taught them the right way to respond and support not only their pastor but the truth of the Bible? Are your leaders (deacons, elders, and other lay leaders) prepared to stand with you when the attacks come? They are looking to you for leadership – so lead and have them prepared!
2. Believe the truth of the Bible and be willing to stand on that truth.
We are taught in the Bible to “stand” after having put on the armor of God (Eph. 6:14- 20). The “flaming darts of the evil one” (v. 16) will be coming, but we are not without protection! You don’t have to worry about having the “belt of truth”, the “breastplate of righteousness”, the “shield of faith”, the “sword of the Spirit”, or be called upon to pray “at all times” if you are sitting by the pool relaxing with a Diet Coke! But when you preach the truth of the Bible, you will be attacked! The evil one is coming to attack so put on that armor and be ready to stand!
- Don’t be discouraged or paralyzed by fear! We have hope!
It is easy to begin to think that our hope is in the Supreme Court giving us the right decision to protect us or in a particular political party, President or other elected official. But that is not where we find our hope! Ps. 46:1-2 says: “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear.” Our hope is in God – not in any person or manmade institution! Fear freezes and paralyzes but hope engages and empowers us! Never forget – GOD IS HOPE! I CAN TRUST HIM!