There is a video floating around in social media where a preacher by the name of Tatsuo Akamine was arrested for “disturbing the peace.” The officer eventually arrested him and took him away. I am writing, not to give an exhaustive thought on the whole situation, but to present a lost theology that I think applies here and in many other contexts within our American culture.
First, it is best to watch the video to get some background.
Also, if you want to tap into my brain as to what sparked me to write about this, please read Tony Miano’s article about what both the preacher and the officer did wrong. It is very enlightening, and it will further assist where I am coming from in this article. (Tony Miano is a preacher with 20 years of law enforcement experience as well as several run-ins with the law in other countries)
Let’s kick start this with a thought from Charles Spurgeon from “Lectures to my Students.”
“I am somewhat pleased when I occasionally hear of a brother’s being locked up by the police, for it does him good, and it does the people good also. It is a fine sight to see the minister of the gospel marched off by the servant of the law! It excites sympathy for him, and the next step is sympathy for his message. Many who felt no interest in him before are eager to hear him when he is ordered to leave off, and still more so when he is taken to the station. The vilest of mankind respect a man who gets into trouble in order to do them good, and if they see unfair opposition excited they grow quite zealous in the man’s defense.”
Obviously, this portion of LTMS would be fitting if the preacher, Tatsuo, was yielding to arrest without giving any resistance. But it is a great point to ponder should we have to be persecuted for righteousness sake.
I had a brother in Christ who came and helped us during an outreach for Cheyenne Frontier Days 2014 here in Cheyenne, Wyoming that talked about all the times he was arrested and set free. That’s right! He has been arrested multiple times, held in confinement, but no charges were ever made against him! Why? This is what he says (not exact words).
“Our law system, unfortunately, is designed for you to plead ‘not guilty’ so that you can pay court fees, lawyer fees, and so on. Although I could easily challenge the law, I don’t. Why? When I go to court, and they hear about what I did, when they ask me if I would like to plead guilty or not, I always say, ‘Guilty your honor.’ That shocks the judge and officer every time. They are expecting me to say ‘not guilty’ and evoke amendments and rights, but I don’t have time for that. When they ask me ‘why’, if I am allowed to give an explanation, I just kindly tell them,’If preaching the gospel is a crime, then I am guilty as charged.’ This way, they can see that I am being unlawfully held. But if they charge me with something, it actually has to be illegal, or they have to find some way to dig up a law that says it’s illegal. They haven’t done it yet, and I continue preaching and handing out tracts and talking to people until one day it actually becomes illegal.”
This is a great point to consider. I have often felt this way when discussing the subject of preaching the gospel. Sure, we don’t have any right to be dishonoring to the Lord and belligerent. And we do have rights as Americans. But we are Christians first, Americans second. We are to yield to detainment even if it is unjust at times, and we know it.
In my career, I have been brought to the law before, but not for preaching the gospel. But I still applied the same biblical principles of peace, yielding to those in authority, and cordial, Christian behavior. It really helped people to see that I wasn’t the monster they wanted me to be. It made the process much smoother, and in the end, God delivered me without conviction. If He didn’t, I was still prepared to endure what I felt would be God’s will for me at the time. That’s right. I was ready to go to jail for something I didn’t do. It is a different feeling. It is a different way of thinking, knowing that I would have to prepare to praise God for going to jail. Military jail at that. But God is faithful and sovereign.
The reason I felt this way is because whether it is for the gospel or not, I feel like we forget that God’s people have endured different kinds of suffering in the Bible. Also, there are multiple Scriptures that teach us something about yielding to authority without resistance, even if we know we are in the right. I pray these Scriptures would help us to have a right attitude about how we are to approach authorities.
Ecclesiastes 10:4 “If the spirit of the ruler rises against you, Do not leave your post; For conciliation pacifies great offenses.”
Titus 3:1-2 “Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men.”
Romans 13:2 “Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves.”
1 Peter 2:23 “…who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously…”
I know that each Scripture above has its individual contexts. I know that when it comes to the gospel, we are to obey God rather than men. I know that if the laws of the land are unjust, we are to take up the banner of Christ and speak up against it. However, don’t take what I am saying out of context. The Scriptures above indicate some kind of yielding and suffering under authority. If a ruler or authority comes against you, control your body and tongue, and yield to the authority that has been given to them. This doesn’t mean you always have to remain silent. It just means your attitude and motives need to be submissive to the authority that has been granted to them when the time comes for you to face arrest, detainment, or possibly death (if it ever comes to that). Also, another option, as Tony Miano points out in his article, is to actually stop doing whatever is causing the authority to come against you, and further inquire about the law or contact a law organization like Liberty Institute to find out more information.
One final thought. In presenting these texts, I am not saying you shouldn’t go to the law if you feel it is necessary. I am also not saying that you shouldn’t utilize some of the resources like Liberty Institute that help people who are unlawfully charged. What I am saying is that maybe it is time we start showing the world how sovereign God by showing some submission, and how we care more about souls being saved than our own rights. Some of us like to tell non-believers that we don’t have any other rights before God because we are sinners who have broken His law, and yet turn around and demanding “our rights” when law enforcement challenges us. This ought not to be so. We are to be Christians first, with the humility of Christ to guide us in our sufferings and persecutions. If we are to be hauled away by the law, go to with a humble heart that doesn’t resist. If it is not for the gospel, the same applies, because we are still ambassadors of the King.
I pray God prepare us all for the persecution that is on the horizon. I am also desperately praying for revival. Go into all the world. Preach the gospel to every creature.