You’ve probably heard the phrase already today that “Freedom isn’t free” and that is true because to establish the freedom from Britain, many colonists lost their lives and property in the fight for independence. I don’t think that we should glorify the action of the United States military over our history to the extent that we ignore many of the horrible things that have been done in the name of freedom, but I think that to the degree from which we have benefited from American dominance we must repent for the sins of our nation has participated in when we have turned a blind eye to justice and truth in our own country and around the world.
In saying that, I think that we should also be careful not to hold up our religious rights as a thing that are the gravest concern to us as Christians in America. I understand their importance, and I appreciate them very much since having the opportunity to travel to places where doing any type of worship is unlawful by severe penalties.
I would hope though, that in being disciples of Jesus Christ that we would be challenged by other Christian’s faith in the world about what we would do in the face of adversity or loss of religious expression. While I think there are a lot of Christians who say we are facing persecution in America, I would also like to point out that we still have a largely Christian population in our country, which is different than Europe or Canada where it has become a post-Christian society. In many places where the church is most persecuted is where much growth and ministry has been occurring because of people’s faith to live for Christ no matter what the cost. I like what Andre E. Johnson wrote in the Huffington Post about a conversation he had with someone about the presence of flags in worship spaces:
I would like to think that I would still worship the God I serve even if it was illegal. A government or state institution does not dictate my worship or belief and it not supported or affirmed by my allegiance to any state symbol, i.e., the flag. Surely, the only reason why you worship the way you do is not because the state allows you to — but because of your personal beliefs in Jesus — or I would like to think so.
Let us run the race looking to Jesus as the author and finisher of our faith (Heb. 12) and not take pride in the rights that we have because Jesus came to show us the way to true life was in giving up our lives and rights for others as we proclaim the hope of the Gospel which is Christ crucified and risen for our freedom from the power of sin and death. Let us truly embrace the cost of discipleship to live and die for Jesus just as many like Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Wang Zhiming, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (for more on 20th century martyrs click here).