Yesterday, on the National Day of Prayer, President Trump, signed an executive order designed to strengthen religious freedom.
Ironically, The Religious Liberty Executive Order, was strongly opposed by liberals, but also criticized by many conservatives as not going far enough to protect people of faith. In fact, the National Review called the Order “worse than useless.” Many are calling for a change in legislation, including a repeal of the so-called Johnson Amendment that restricts political activity of churches under threat of losing their tax-exempt status.
Nevertheless, the President promised in a Rose Garden ceremony, “We will not allow people of faith to be targeted, bullied or silenced again and we will never stand for religious discrimination.”
Furthermore, the President signed a Proclamation making the first Thursday in May The National Day of Prayer, as all Presidents have done since Harry Truman in 1952. The Proclamation was also a strong message extolling our religious freedom:
“We are also reminded and reaffirm that all human beings have the right, not only to pray and worship according to their consciences, but to practice their faith in their homes, schools, charities, and businesses – in private and in the public square – free from government coercion, discrimination, or persecution. Religion is not merely an intellectual exercise, but also a practical one that demands action in the world. Even the many prisoners around the world who are persecuted for their faith can pray privately in their cells. But our Constitution demands more: the freedom to practice one’s faith publicly.”
While we are happy to live in a country where we enjoy the freedom of worship, and desire to have the religious liberty to practice our faith without fear, we recognize our true liberty is in the Lord, not in Presidential proclamations.
Jesus said, “You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” The freedom of which Christ speaks is the freedom from the slavery of sin. Freedom from Satan’s snare. Freedom from personal guilt. Freedom from condemnation (Jn 8:31-36; Rom. 8:1).
The Bible calls for Christians to “stand fast in the liberty by which Christ has made us free.” Yet that liberty is not to be used for carnal objectives, or selfish goals, but as an opportunity to serve the Lord and our fellow man (Gal 5: 1, 13; 1 Pet 2:16).
Regardless of the political situation where I live, I can enjoy spiritual freedom in Christ and experience the liberty of living a life the Lord directs. Certainly, a political and cultural climate that is favorable to Christianity makes it easier, but is not necessary to committed, faithful discipleship.
ThePreachersWord believes that too many churches in America have strayed from the command of the Great Commission and the spiritual purpose for which Christ died for the church (Mk. 16:15-16; Eph. 4:11-16). No where in the Bible do we read of first century churches petitioning Rome for favorable laws, organizing protests, or sending lobbyists to Caesar’s palace.
Individually, like the apostle Paul did on more than one occasion, we may take advantage of the laws as citizens to accomplish God’s will (Acts 16:35-38; 25:11). And surely we are to be good, law abiding citizens (Rom 13:1-7). However, let us never forget that our true citizenship is in heaven (Phil. 3:20). As pilgrims, on the way home, we seek to be “the salt of the earth” and the light of the world.”
Finally, let us be reminded that the work of the Gospel is spiritual, not political. The Kingdom of God will not exercise influence over the kingdom of men by force, legislation, or partisan politics.
In the meantime, we rejoice for any orders by our President or legislation by Congress that insures our freedom. But we know that our true liberty is not in men’s edicts, but in the message of the cross (1 Cor 1:18).
–Ken Weliever, ThePreacherman