Proverbs 25:29 The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe.
Matthew 5:10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Well the time of outright American persecution seems to have arrived. The story of a the town of Gilbert Arizona banning home Bible studies of town residents has been getting a decent of media coverage. Here is a basic summary:
In November 2009, Oasis of Truth Church was ordered in a letter from a Gilbert code compliance officer to stop church meetings in Pastor Joe Sutherland’s home, based on the town’s Land Development Code. The officer was not responding to a complaint, but to signs he came across near Sutherland’s home about the meetings.
The town contends that, under its zoning code, churches within its borders cannot have any home meetings of any size, including Bible studies, three-person church leadership meetings, and potluck dinners. This ban is defended based upon traffic, parking, and building safety concerns. However, nothing in its zoning code prevents weekly Cub Scouts meetings, Monday Night Football parties with numerous attendees, or large business parties from being held on a regular basis in private homes. In fact, the zoning code explicitly allows some day cares to operate from homes.
The Alliance Defense Fund, a legal advocacy group that has done great work over the past several years to defend the rights of Christians in America, has now filed an appeal to overturn the town’s decision. The ruling on this is expected today. But the message is clear: there are actual concerted effort to truly limit the Free Exercise of Christianity in America.
The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution states: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. The law appears to be on the side of the Church.
When the Apostles were ordered by the authorities to stop preaching in the name of Jesus Christ our Savior they made their feelings clear:
5:27 And when they had brought them, they set them before the council: and the high priest asked them, 5:28 Saying, Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us. 5:29 Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.
Christians do not need to form their own government, secede or start any type of revolution. We also do not need to fight anyone. That is not what Jesus did on Earth and its certainly not what He commanded us to do. But He did command us to worship God, to believe on Him, to care for others and to share the Gospel. And we are to study our Word and pray with each other. And these are things that we should never have to compromise because of a “law.” I pray for the town of Gilbert to repeal this ordinance and for believers nation-wide to see this disturbing trend and increase their faith and devotion for the days ahead.