I ask the preceeding knowing full well that I am about to state an unpopular opinion. I also state this hoping that you will pray that I will not end up on Homeland Security’s terror watch list as I post this. I don’t want to have to deal with that kind of screening at the airports on my mission trip, and any other subsequent flights I need to take.
We, as Americans take great pride in our Constitutional freedoms. But does this truly grant us freedom?
“It’s a free country.” This is often spoken. Usually, this is in defense of whatever vice someone has. This has also been, ironically, referenced by certain atheists in this nation to try to silence public professions of faith, feeling that it violates their rights to not believe.
Our own personal constitutional freedom conflicts with our spiritual, God-given freedoms. While I do not oppose our constitutional freedom, because it has afforded us the right to choose what we believe for ourselves, and to speak for ourselves, it is a double-edged sword. While it can bring us closer to God because of the fact that we choose to believe in him for ourselves, it can also cause us to drift further away from God on the basis of absolute freedom. That is, we often turn to other things before we turn to God.
Even when we come to Christ, so often these things continue to pull us away from God. Sure, we still believe. Sure, we know our sins our forgiven. But we just simply do not walk in the power and authority that Christ has called us to, because we have not fully relinquished control of our own lives fully. Because we are free to do what we please, according to our “certain inalienable rights” granted to us by our Constitution, we often overwork ourselves, become addicted to drugs, alcohol, gambling, sex, pornography, hobbies, collections, and other things that pull our attention away from God, because we have that choice available to us. But why?
In a survey, it was found that only 37% of Americans read the Bible at least once a week, despite 92% of all Americans owning on average three copies of the Bible. On average, Americans read that read their Bibles read them for 52 minutes per week. That averages out to less than 8 minutes daily! And the vast majority of those minutes are spent in perfunctory readings at church.
Let’s compare this to China, a nation in which religion is restricted under communist rule. While there are state-controlled Christian bodies within China, they are tightly-controlled and restricted by the Chinese government. Yet the house churches in China spend arguably more time in prayer and worship than anywhere else.
In other restricted countries, where owning even a Bible is illegal, you will often hear stories of single PAGES from Bibles being distributed among the people. These people will pore over these pages, and memorize the scripture on the page. They know the next page they see may not be there for a while. These places may have the same vices, and more, than we have here. Yet they choose to devote themselves to prayer and reading the Bible.
Let’s not forget the Church reformation, where the Catholic church controlled religion. People died to bring freedom of worship and the ability to choose to believe in God and to read His word for ourselves to the masses. And now that we have these freedoms, we take them for granted.
Am I advocating state-run churchs dictatorships? No. Church-run states tend to stagnate churches as well. The Roman Catholic church ran pretty-much all forms of government for centuries. These centuries have been referred to as the dark ages, as this was where the church stagnated. Let’s also not forget that the British control of church is why America was established in the first place.
And while I also don’t advocate dictatorships, sometimes I wonder if that is what it will take to send a wake-up call to the American church. In fact, there are times when I straddle the fence between praying for oppression in America, knowing from the models of North Korea, China, and Africa, that this can bring true spiritual revival to the USA, and praying for God to open the eyes of the church peacefully.
Our founding fathers understood this. They not only understood our constitutional rights, but our God-given rights, and our role in using our Constitutional rights to mirror our God-given rights. Over time, the government lost sight of this, and now we, as people, often use our God-given rights to mirror our Constitutional rights.
I am of the belief that our constitutional freedom could be our own worst spiritual enemy. When we exercise these freedoms, we often take it for granted, and use it not to our benefit, but downfall.
Moreover, this type of constitutional freedom and acceptance of Christianity robs us of blessings.
Mark 13:8 “And you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.”
In America, this doesn’t happen. There may be exceptions, but overall, this isn’t the case. This would explain why churches in persecuted countries are more blessed and anointed than churches here, and why they see more signs and wonders than we do.
The New Testament church saw this persecution daily. They were arrested, beaten, killed, forced to flee Jerusalem. And as a result, the church flourished and multiplied exponentially. Our churches have stagnated under no persecution.
Even the South Korean church is generally more blessed than America, with the threat of communism and war sitting just an hour’s drive north of their capital. Even still, their own freedom allows for the same stagnation as the American church. Dare I not mention the thriving North Korean underground church. I had no clue that it even existed, until I was in Seoul last year. This was discussed in great detail on my way back to Church from lunch for the 3rd (Yes, you read correctly, 3rd) service of the day.
9/11 caused a glimpse of what a persecuted American church would look like. But after the immediate threat ceased, people went back to business as usual.
We acknowledge our freedom, but neglect our spiritual freedom. We act on what we can do under the Constitution, federal, and state laws, but don’t act on what God’s freedom implies.
Freedom from God implies:
–Freedom from the penalty of our sin
–Freedom to worship in Spirit & Truth
–Freedom of access to God
–Freedom to live in the likeness of God
–Freedom to speak the Word of God, so that others may believe
We often neglect these Freedoms to fight for “righteous causes.” We are often so blindsided fighting for these causes, that our own spiritual lives falter. Meanwhile, we are still losing these battles. The fact is that a secular government (which is what our government is now) will only stand in the way of abortion rights and homosexual rights for so long, until the moral bankruptcy of the government peaks to the point that these rights will be passed.
Note that I am not advocating a que sera sera stance, nor am I pro-choice, or pro-gay marriage. We should stand up for what is ethically and Biblically right. We should be the voice amidst the morally bankrupt calling for a just nation. America is a strong nation, one that the rest of the world looks up to. And we, as a nation, could be a light to the rest of the world. However, having going so far astray from Biblical principles, can we right the ship now?
We should look at ancient Israel as an example. After Solomon, there was corruption in the nation, causing the rift between Israel and Judah. They continued in corruption, but would eventually see good kings who would transform their respective kingdoms into ones who feared God. However, these would only last for so long before corruption prevailed again, and eventually both kingdoms were overthrown by their adversaries.
So we can right this ship. That is a possibility. We need to pray for it continually as Christians. However, we need to understand the inevitability of these rights passing at the end of the age. We have been told that the world will be at its most corrupt point when the end times begin, as foretold by John, Daniel, and several others. Considering we are only seeing the birthpains as told by Jesus in Matthew, we aren’t there yet. And I cannot fathom the moral bankruptcy that will occur at the end of the age if this isn’t it.
Instead of focusing on our constitutional rights, we need to be focusing on our God given rights, different from anything a human-instituted government can provide. If we are able to do this, then whether we face immediate persecution or not, we will be prepared for persecution. If we are able to exercise this daily, then we will see the church grow.