May 22, 2017
What will you do if you’re called to testify by subpoena?
That’s a question that you probably don’t have to ponder, but if you worked anywhere near the last election, and operate “inside the Beltway,” it’s something you might have to answer. There’s a Special Counsel in town, and he’s going to be looking for answers…
Congress has been calling for audiences with high-visibility players, as well. It’s often confusing to the people with real jobs: they ask people to appear before committees, but their appearances seem to be elective. Though there are provisions for subpoenas and contempt citations, it often appears to be a dog-bite from a dachshund with dentures.
When called to court as a witness, there are a handful of opt-out provisions. The stay-quiet conditions include:
- The classic 5th Amendment option: avoiding self-incrimination
- The witness is a defendant in a criminal case
- The witness is married to a defendant in the case
- The witness is the defendant’s attorney, therapist or priest/pastor
- The witness is not competent because of age or defect
Without one of those exclusions, a person called to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth – may God help them – has no choice but to testify… or, risk going to jail for their refusal.
In the courtroom of life, it seems that people who are called to take the stand have often added one more reason not to speak the truth. It’s their rendition of the famous quote from St. Francis of Assisi: “Preach the Gospel at all times; use words if necessary.” Quote? Or, mis-quote?
There’s a reason that exclusion won’t work: there is no record of Francis ever saying – or, writing – those words. He must shudder – in the parallel universe of Eternity – each time he is credited with what has become a get-out-of-being-obedient card for followers of the Lord Jesus.
Here’s the idea: in the courtroom of life, if you don’t want to take the stand and share the Truth that has transformed your own life and given you the promise of forgiveness from sin, you can just sit in the gallery and express sentiment about the proceedings rather than offering your own affirmation to the case, using non-verbal facial expressions and body language to infer your opinions to the jury.
I think that St Francis would concur with St Paul, regarding the matter at hand. While Francis’ quote is disputed, no one disputes Paul’s inspired-by-the-Holy Spirit phraseology in Romans 10: “ ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent?…” (vs. 13-15)
Hear this: no one – ever! – was “saved” by a silent witness. Anything short of a believable testimony about the facts that God calls “the Gospel” will not enable the response of faith, to “call on the name of the Lord to be saved.” Paul argues that the unredeemed are dependent on someone being sent to them, to preach. Without that, they cannot be “saved” (Paul’s claim, directly quoted).
Someone must be sent: that requires a Sender, and direct-reports who are under his/her authority. Paul and Francis both recognized their orders: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Jesus, in Matthew 28:18-20).
We’ve been called to testify. Will you reject the subpoena, plead the 5th, or… speak the Truth?