Christians should live what they say they believe. That includes voting according to what we believe. But we need to go further than just voting according to our conscience, supporting candidates who agree with us on what we think is good and bad.
There are several hidden motivations that can affect Christians when we vote if we forget to think deeply about what we believe. I’ve discussed three of those hidden motivations in the last few posts. Today, I want to discuss freedom.
One reason we might want to make America a more “Christian” nation is to keep the blessings God has given us, including the freedom to worship him and to speak freely. If we were ever to lose those freedoms, we believe we would also lose the ability to teach others about God and his plan of salvation because our freedoms allow us to spread the gospel throughout our own nation and the world. If our nation is obedient to God he will continue to bless us with freedom, and we can use our resources for God’s glory. We can win people to Christ, in this country and in others, by our nation’s example of righteous living. Can’t we?
Perhaps the question should be, do we? It is nice having the freedom to attend church openly and to join Christian organizations, but when is the last time you used your freedom of speech to tell someone else about Jesus? How much of your resources (time, money and talent) are you investing each week in spreading the gospel of Christ? Is the church you freely go to encouraging you to study and grow in God’s Word, or is it just a nice place to meet with people who share your values and traditions?
In other words, are you using your freedoms for God’s glory or for your own comfort?
It would be great if all Christians in America truly used the freedoms and resources with which we are blessed to do God’s work in the world. But even if we did, should we assume that we can do God’s work better with the gifts of freedom and prosperity than without them? God’s Word would seem to indicate that the opposite is true.
The book of Acts takes up the story of the disciples and apostles after the resurrection and ascension of Jesus. On the day of Pentecost, Peter preached the good news of the gospel to a large crowd of people in Jerusalem “and about three thousand people were added to their number” (Acts 2:41).
Had Peter been living in the United States, that might have been the end of the story, but he lived in Israel in the first century, where freedom of speech had never been heard of. Shortly after Pentecost, Peter and his friend John were arrested for preaching outside the temple. “They seized Peter and John, and because it was evening, they put them in jail until the next day. But many who heard the message believed, and the number of men grew to about five thousand” (Acts 4:3-4).
After their release from jail, Peter and John continued to spread the gospel, ignoring the threats and warnings of their nation’s religious leaders. New disciples sold their belongings and shared all they had with one another. When one couple lied about the amount they had received for selling some property, God struck them dead in punishment, and “more men and women believed and were added to their number” (Acts 5:14). Stephen was stoned to death for telling people about Jesus. Believers were persecuted in Jerusalem and many were forced to leave the city. But “those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went” (Acts 8:4). Peter was arrested again and set free by an angel. James, the brother of John, was executed. Paul was accused, beaten, and chased out of almost every city that he ever visited. And still the Church grew!
The Bible makes one thing perfectly clear. God is able to overcome any obstacle in the furtherance of his work. You don’t need to be free to worship God. You don’t need to feel secure to tell others about Jesus Christ. The Gospel of Christ is spreading all around the world right now, in communist countries, in Muslim countries, in places where God’s people face imprisonment, beatings, loss of jobs or property, and even death.
Freedom of religion, freedom of speech, peace and prosperity—none of these are necessary to the work of God. They may even be a hindrance, if we come to love these freedoms more than we love God.
“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.” (1 John 2:15-17)
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What is my mission as an author? The goal dearest to my heart is to help Christians think about what they really believe and then to act as if they believe it. It all begins with understanding what it means to be a Christian. Then we have to learn to live like a Christian.