We don’t need religious freedom in order to meet as a church and worship, but it certainly helps!
23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:23-25
Today, in the Baptist Faith & Message, we look at:
XVII. Religious Liberty
God alone is Lord of the conscience, and He has left it free from the doctrines and commandments of men which are contrary to His Word or not contained in it. Church and state should be separate. The state owes to every church protection and full freedom in the pursuit of its spiritual ends. In providing for such freedom no ecclesiastical group or denomination should be favored by the state more than others. Civil government being ordained of God, it is the duty of Christians to render loyal obedience thereto in all things not contrary to the revealed will of God. The church should not resort to the civil power to carry on its work. The gospel of Christ contemplates spiritual means alone for the pursuit of its ends. The state has no right to impose penalties for religious opinions of any kind. The state has no right to impose taxes for the support of any form of religion. A free church in a free state is the Christian ideal, and this implies the right of free and unhindered access to God on the part of all men, and the right to form and propagate opinions in the sphere of religion without interference by the civil power.
“A free church in a free state is the Christian ideal” says it all. America has been a great place for Christians because our laws reflect the statutes in this Baptist article. In many countries, practicing a religion outside of the state religion is punishable by loss of job, loss of property, imprisonment, and even capital punishment. Religious liberty does not stop Christians from meeting and worshiping together; it just makes it easier.
If, at any time, it becomes inconvenient and/or unpopular to be a Christian in America, we can expect two boons:
- Our churches will become a lot leaner and, subsequently, healthier (only true Christians will attend),
- As Christians live different and sometimes dangerous lifestyles than the people around them, many will be drawn to Christ because of our personal relationship with Christ that goes beyond personal safety or creature comforts.
Paul said to pray for a peaceful atmosphere in order to live godly lives that draw others to Christ,
I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. 1 Timothy 2:1-4
Abba, this is our prayer today. We pray for our president, his cabinet, congress, our judges, our state leadership and our city leadership that they would allow Christians to live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. May we exemplify You in our lives and share with those who ask about our “strange” behavior. All glory goes to You, Jesus. Amen.