As we approach Independence Day and the celebrations that will happen this weekend, I thought this would be a good time to reflect upon the idea of freedom and what it really means for us as Christians. Before I get into it, I want to take a moment to acknowledge those who have served and sacrificed so that our country can remain free from tyranny and oppression, at least from outside threats. To all military personnel who might be reading this, thank you for your service and sacrifice. We acknowledge the difficulties you faced in the name of duty to your country, and appreciate everything you have done for us
As an American Christian, I often struggle with the idea of freedom in our country. As Christians, we are commanded by Jesus himself in Mark 16:15 to, “go and preach the good news to the whole creation.” But what does “preaching the good news” entail? Does this mean that we should force non-Christians to adhere to Christian law? Does this mean that we should try to become the political majority so that we can impose Christianity upon the entire nation in an effort to “save” the non-believers? I have a hard time accepting that train of thought, especially in a country founded on the principle of religious freedom.
First, I don’t believe that this is what Christ intended us to do. We learned in Rev. Brad’s sermon this week that Jesus rebuked his disciples for wanting to bring down heavenly fire on the Samaritans, even after they openly protested against Jesus’ teachings. Instead, we should teach others about Christ through his love, kindness, and generosity. Secondly, as evidenced more and more in recent times, forcing Christian values on non-Christians does more to drive people away from Christ than to bring them into a Christian lifestyle.
So what are we to do? Do we sit idly by and watch our beloved country move further away from Christ and his plan for us? I don’t think that is quite the right answer either. I believe that it is our responsibility as Christians to spread the good news, but to do so without forcing our beliefs on others. We need to reach out in love and kindness to those who are non-believers and show them that Christ’s love is unwavering and unconditional. I also believe that it is our responsibility as Americans to stand up for the rights of all citizens, even if they are non-Christians and even if their choices or lifestyle rub against our Christian values. Only after we have ensured that everyone’s rights are protected can we truly say that we live in a free country. And only by showing love, mercy, and kindness to others can we truly be a reflection of what Christ is to us.
I hope that you all have a wonderful holiday weekend, and if you are in town, be sure to come to our Patriotic Bluegrass Celebration this Sunday at 10:00 a.m. in the Sanctuary. It is sure to be a great time of worship and fun!
In Christ’s Love,
Minister Logan J. Smith