We’re approaching July 4th, a time when many “conservative” Christians will get together and read the Declaration of Independence, talk about how thankful they are to live in a free country that can pray and worship God, and longingly talk about how if only our country would return to the Constitution, our woes would be over.
My soul burns in me this time of year as I hear Christians offer prayers of thanksgiving to God declaring how thankful they are to live in a country where they can pray and are free to worship God.
Why, then, do prayer meetings empty the church assembly? Why, then, is it a stretch to meet more than once or twice a week to worship God? Why, if you are so thankful for your supposed liberties in America, do you not pray unceasingly?
I cannot stand the hypocrisy that offers thanksgivings to God for a liberty that we do not exercise!
It is nothing more than self-condemnation to get around and talk about how we “take for granted our liberties”, and never change!
Indeed, be thankful that we experienced a season in world-history that allotted unusual advantages to the Church, but repent because the Church used that season to acquire great wealth and grow fat! Repent that the Church did not seek to draw near to God and extol Him with the glory and honor He is due on every street corner in a society that is supposedly so free to “worship God”.
If you are hearing this kind of conversation, my brethren, let me admonish you to carefully consider your words before they leave your tongue; God will indeed hear what you say– if you reminiscently talk about how you should not take advantage of these liberties, but bear no fruits of repentance for having neglected your liberty to pray and worship God, then you are heaping on yourself greater condemnation!
This kind of talk is rooted in a grand lie about liberty; it is the abominable idea that we get our liberty from the Constitution, or any governing body that presides over the land.
The Constitution affords us carnal liberties; the liberty to pursue life and happiness, protection of private property, and a concept of just governance that did, indeed, benefit generations of Christians. But, more often than not, those carnal liberties were abused by Christians who sought greed and selfish ambition instead of crucifying them!
Christians in our generation have confused these carnal liberties with liberty in Christ!
Your liberty to pray does not come from any governing body or ruling law; take Daniel as an example- when prayer was banned for one month throughout the whole land, the first thing Daniel did was to pray, and that according to the same exact custom he had practiced as before. Nothing changed. And that liberty was upheld by God who saved him from the mouth of the lions!
For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy; giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.
You have been transferred out of the kingdom of darkness and into the Kingdom of Christ by the redeeming blood of Jesus Christ.
In fact, it is the Father that qualifies you for this, and this fact itself should inspire worship. The carnal liberties of men’s constitutions are irrelevant to our worship.
HOLD THAT THOUGHT
Before you lambaste me as “never having lived in an oppressed country”, I have. My primary mission field is China. And although China has opened up significantly, I have been taken by police and interrogated for hours on end; it was God who upheld me.
I have spoken to men from around the world, some of which lived homeless on the streets of their home countries for the sake of the gospel, and they each know that it is God who upholds His children, and it is Him by whom we offer up the sacrifices of praise, and in His Spirit that we pray.
Christians in America, particularly during this time of year, are living in denial of their spiritual reality!
Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation.
~1 Peter 1:11-12
We are to be as sojourners and pilgrims in this world, and this is not to be just a beautiful expression, it must be a physical reality! The righteousness of God is foreign to the sons of this abominable generation, and it is through their observation of God’s foreign righteousness in us, His Children, that He will receive glory on the day of visitation from those who are the sons of disobedience.
The great tragedy in all of this is because Christians view themselves as “American Christians”, as if we are some kind of brand of Christianity, with our own unique variance, we are walking as strangers to the Kingdom of God and are well at home as American Citizens!
The truth is that to many people Peter’s petition is nothing more than a beautiful expression of words with absolutely no meaningful reality in their own personal life. They are citizens of this world, more at home in a football stadium full of 50,000 liars, adulterers, fornicators, thieves, sex-traffickers, murderers, and blasphemers, than they are in a small assembly of 5 righteous saints!
If this insults your patriotic sensitivities then I am glad. It is a grievous offense that Christians have made themselves more at home in this world than in the presence and glory of God; even more unbearable that too many do not even know by experience, by revelation, and by truth what that expression “in the presence and glory of God” even means!
No, I am not rebuking anyone for offering sincere thanks to God for the advantages that have been afforded to the Church by our civil-liberties if they do so without the leaven of hypocrisy; if they have met often for prayer and proclaimed the liberty of Christ in the open square- if they have used their advantages to serve the poor and proclaim His true liberty to those oppressed by sin and held in bondage by the chains of darkness- yes, if you have used the advantages of this nation so as not abusing them, then offer thanksgiving to God! Extol Him with praise and honor Him with the unadulterated, undefiled fruit of lips; thank God with deep sincerity that He afforded you the privilege of knowing Him through Jesus Christ His everlasting Son!
But if you are going to gather together to read the Declaration of Independence and give God’s honor to men who neither wanted such honor, nor intended that men should receive such honor, then with all my heart I beg you to hear the rebuke of the LORD!
Most of all I admonish you to look forward as unto Christ, the author and finisher of our faith; remember that it is in His coming that all the sanctified hope of the saints rests. Keep yourself from those that will talk about keeping their rights to worship God by force of guns, and keep yourself from the seductive patriotic lie that would make you think that your liberties in Christ are afforded to you by a document written and signed by men!