Let’s be frank: Religious liberty has become a buzz-word phrase in the last few weeks. With the signing of Religious Free Restoration Acts in two new states, religious liberty is at the forefront of many debates today.
This is not, however, the first time that this has been a hot topic; gay marriage and free exercise of religion have been at odds for the past few years. It seems that it is only a matter of time before all of this comes to a head and something will have to give. So what is a Christian to do?
The Constitution has been the bedrock of American liberty since its inception. It was well-crafted by men who had the nation’s best interest at heart. They were not concerned with a specific group’s interests but were instead concerned with structuring a government in such a way that each person could enjoy “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” They even added an amendment preventing the government from making any law “prohibiting the free exercise” of religion.
But things change and it would appear that our nation is more concerned about the interests of a specific group over the liberty of all. Could it be possible that a day might come in which Christians are not allowed to freely exercise their religion in the name of “tolerance”? Yes, it is possible … and perhaps even likely.
Throughout the history of the church, wherever the Gospel has spread, persecution and opposition have followed. Nations have risen and fallen with the cross in front of them and behind them; nations have embraced Christianity and have then rejected it; they have conquered and have been conquered; governmental systems have risen and fallen. All of these things are temporary and those that will come after them will be no less temporary. The one thing that will always stay true: the promises of God.
Jesus Told Us This Would Happen
Jesus said, “Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man” (Luke 6:22). Jesus promised us that when we take a stand for His name and His truth, people will hate us for it.
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We see this when the small-business owner refuses to accept business and chooses not to accept that which is sinful – and the mainstream media goes ballistic. Jesus was telling us the truth. So let’s ask the question again: What is a Christian to do?
The Greatest Commandments
When asked what the greatest commandment in the Law was, Jesus responded by saying, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets” (Matt. 22:37-40). Love for God is the most important thing in a Christian’s life. John wrote, “This is love for God, that we keep his commandments” (1 John 5:3). When God says something is sinful, we must believe it as such. When God commands something, we must obey. When we subvert the laws of God for the sake of cultural tolerance, we abandon love for God. We must not do this.
Jesus said the second greatest commandment was to love your neighbor as yourself. This is important because a Christian does not have license to be hateful simply because someone has a lifestyle that is contrary to Scripture. Instead, we should love God first by keeping His commands and then love others by pointing them to the truth of God’s Word, communicating all the while that we care for them and love them. Spewing hateful venom at each other is not being loving toward others, nor is it being loving toward God, since they also are made in the image of God just as we are.
Instead, no matter what kind of opposition a believer faces, our task remains the same: love God first and love others in such a way that it communicates our love for God and our love for them. We are not promised religious liberty in the Scriptures; we are promised opposition to the Gospel and blessing for remaining faithful to the commands of God.
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