You’ve heard it said many times that with freedom comes responsibility. On this July 4th I’m reminded of this truth from a little different angle…the gospel. For much of the 20th Century, evangelical churches in America tied far too much of their religion to their patriotism. It still is not unusual to see in our churches more people get teary over patriotic themes than religious ones. Images of war can bring more passion than images of missions. Before I offend you, I believe in our country and greatly appreciate (and pray for) the service of the men and women in our armed forces. I pray for our president and leaders.
My concern, however is for our churches. We have squandered so much of our religious freedom on political agendas that many of our churches are closing down and being sold. Take the picture below, for example. This is the old Central Baptist Church in Washington, DC. Look closely (click to enhance)…
Our greatest passion in a free country should not be that free country. Our greatest passion, as a church, in a free country is to proclaim the gospel while in a period of freedom with great fervency. Again, I’m not against our country whatsoever. On paper, I’m as conservative as they come on all fronts. But my citizenship, purchased by Christ, is the kingdom of heaven, not men.
Whether its politics, culture or fashion, America usually follows Europe (England in particular). So, it’s no surprise that we have a picture like we have above because the picture below is just a representation of many Methodist churches in England that have now become mosques. Whereas our churches are but fifty to a hundred years old, these in England stand at 200-300 years old. Heritage will not protect us or the gospel.
May we thank God on this day for giving us such great freedom. May we thank God for his preservation of our freedoms through those who serve us in the armed forces. But above all, may we beseech God for the resolve not to waste the freedoms that cost this much, by distorting the gospel to a mere “means” of achieving all the wealth and plenty we can have in this world! While we have this freedom, let us be good stewards of the gospel, proclaiming the good news of the greatest freedom that ANYONE in this world could ever know, and that is being set free from the bondage of sin and death, set free to WORSHIP THE KING OF ALL CREATION AND COUNTRIES!
I Peter 2:9-17
9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
11 Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. 12 Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.
13 Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, 14 or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. 15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. 16 Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. 17 Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.