Religious Liberty – American Christian’s Most Important Pursuit?

I’ve had a lot of response from my post about Kim Davis and my opinion about what she’s doing. I thought it may be beneficial if I share the underlying truth that drives me to my conclusion. This especially since the topic brings much debate and because some Christians may struggle to understand why I said what I said. (If you haven’t read that post you may want to take time to read it by clicking here).

Several years ago I read a book titled, Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxes. To say I was impacted by the book would be an understatement. If you’ve read it (and you should if you haven’t) I’m sure you were as impacted as I was. The lingering question in my mind after reading that book was, where was the church during the rise of Nazism? Why were the German Christians seemingly silent during one of the worst human atrocities in history?

The reason the church was silenced in Nazi Germany wasn’t because they failed to rise up against the regime and fight for their rights. The reason the church was marginalized and silenced was because they had long before stopped relying on the Gospel and living for it. The church in Germany forgot the mission of the Gospel and therefore they were silent.

As I look now at the landscape of Christianity in America, like you, I see a movement to remove religious liberty from the fabric of our nation. I’m not comparing what’s happening in the U.S. to what went on in Nazi Germany, but, I am comparing how the church as a whole views their purpose. So many Christians seem to think that the most pressing issue for Christians today is ensuring we don’t lose our religious liberty.

This is a major problem.

Look through the book of Acts and look through the New Testament epistles; can you find anywhere that Jesus, Paul, Peter or any other New Testament writers covered the Christians pursuit of religious liberty? No. Not once. Why?

You can also read through The Book of Martyrs by John Fox. You also will not find, anywhere, Christians fighting for their religious liberty much less their freedom or any other rights. To the contrary, they were willing to die for their faith with no thought of what we call human rights today. Why?

They knew that when they began to follow Jesus Christ they were giving up their rights. More than that, they were completely giving up even worrying about their rights, liberties and freedoms because they were consumed with the person of Jesus Christ and what He called them to do. Simply, live the Gospel.

When I look at the history of the church I come to this conclusion: God is not obligated in any way to preserve our religious freedom. I’m not saying we shouldn’t pray for Him to do so, but the answer could be “no.” Are you okay with that?

So, why are American Christians so consumed with religious liberty? What should be the paramount work of the person who follows Christ? It is to make sure we don’t lose our religious rights in America?

I now watch this panic rise up in Christians and you can see the fear all over what they’re saying. Christians in America are afraid of losing the religious liberty. But why? Do you think that the only way you and I can truly be Christians is through religious liberty? What I see in history, when the church flourished the most, is it doing so without religious freedom. Actually, the church has flourished most during times of persecution.

The reason the church flourished was because the Christ follower’s greatest concern was the Gospel and nothing else. Christians today seem to be more worried about their religious freedom than to their calling to the Gospel.

If you didn’t know, the church in America has been on a long, slow decline for a long time. Churches are closing at a rapid rate and many are walking away from the faith. All that began during a time of religious liberty. So, if you want to argue that we need religious liberty for the Gospel to survive in America, you’re not looking at history nor do you see the Gospel right.

So, why am I critical about the way the Kim Davis case has been handled? Why does seeing and hearing all the Christians jump on that band-wagon bother me? Because it seems that we’ve set aside our purpose of the Gospel and replaced it with a purpose of religious liberty. And that’s not our calling!

The reason there is such division between Christianity and secularism in America is simply because the church has lost it’s voice. It’s lost it’s voice because Christians are ever so ready to use their freedom of speech to speak in ways that are not filled with truth and grace. Many Christians seem to be more concerned about their rights than they are about the Gospel.

Don’t forget, when you said you’d follow Christ you said you would “deny [yourself], take up your cross and follow [Him].” If you didn’t say that, you’re not following Him. This is a path that leads to death, not rights.

Here’s the point: Everything that we’re doing and saying as Christians should be about the mission of the Gospel. Not our rights.

If we get that wrong, we’ll continue to lose our voice to this generation and lose our ability to live out our calling in the Gospel.

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