Monday, September 14, 2015

Give Me Liberty Or Give Me Death

Fight the good fight for what we believe....( I Timothy 6:12 NLT).
The famous words of the title, spoken by Patrick Henry in 1775 were the fuse that ignited The Revolutionary War.  Today the church is in a struggle. This conflict is not being fought with bullets and cannons as in Henry's day, but with words and ideas. For Christians today, though the terms of engagement are different, the consequence of defeat in this war is the same, the loss of our liberty.
            Whether we want to believe it or not, you and I are in a war.  Is the mentality of the church today to fight or play?  AW Tozer the prominent twentieth century pastor and writer, once said this about the church of his day. “People think of the world, not as a battleground, but as a playground. We are not here to fight; we are here to frolic.” How much more is this true of  the church in our day.  Dr. David Jeremiah said  this in response to Tozer’s comment. “We need to begin living like it’s the battle for our very lives, because in fact, it is.”
            The church is being bombarded with anti-God cultural mindsets.. Alternative lifestyles, same-sex marriage, the killing of the unborn, just to mention a few. Our young people are being brainwashed in academia.  Richard Dawkins, the brilliant naturalistic scientist from Oxford University who wrote the book “The God Delusion”, says this.  “The reason we have religious or moral thought within our thinking, is because something has gone wrong with the software of humanity, it s virus that has entered our thinking, and  we need somehow to expunge this virus.”  He even goes so far as to dismiss a category called evil.
Ravi Zacharias talks about what he calls privatization, which fosters a disconnect between our private and public lives. It says you can be religious if you want, but don’t bring it into the public arena.  You can believe what you want to believe, but just keep it to yourselves.  You are free to exercise your faith, but don’t try to put that over on Jews, Muslims, or Hindus.
A group of Brahmans from a part of India, due to the gains of Christianity among Hindus, once decided that they would allow the Christians to practice their religion but not propagate it.  A wise old Brahman spoke up and said, " you don't understand Christianity, to practice it is to propagate it."  This gagging of Christianity pressures the church to hunker down in our little Christian bunkers and wait for second coming of Christ. And all the while the world is going to hell in a handbasket.
Of course the world has good sounding justifications for their schools of thought.  In my country, the United States of America, there are many trumpeting the so-called Constitutional cry for the separation of the church and state.  Yes, our Constitution does guard against a state religion, but it was never the intent of our founding fathers to have believers leave their faith at the door when they exit their places of worship.  Those who interpret the Constitution have done so in a way that freedom of religion has become freedom from religion.  The men who penned this document, mostly men of faith, would be dismayed at how the meaning of their words have been distorted.
Listen to what Steve Turner an English satirist has to say about the state of the world in which we live.
                    We believe in Marx, Freud, and Darwin.  We believe everything is Ok,
                    as long as you don’t hurt anyone, to the best of your definition of hurt
                    and to the best definition of knowledge.  We believe in sex before,
                    during, and after marriage.  We believe in the therapy of sin.  We believe
                    adultery is fun.  We believe everything is getting better, despite evidence
                    to the contrary.  We believe Jesus was a good man just like Buddha,
                    Mohammed,  and ourselves.  He was a good moral teacher, although
                     we think some of His good morals are really bad.  We believe all
                     religions are basically the same, they only differ on creation, sin,
                     heaven, hell, God and salvation.  We believe that after death there
                     is nothing, because we ask the dead, they say nothing.  We believe
                     Masters and Johnson who said that what is selected is average,
                     what is average is normal, and what is normal is good.  We believe in 
                     total disarmament, because we believe that there is a direct link between
                     warfare and bloodshed.  Americans should beat their guns into tractors,
                     and the Russians will be sure to follow.  We believe that man is basically
                     good, it’s only his behavior that lets him down.  This is the fault of society.
                     Society is the fault of conditions, and conditions are the fault of society. 
                     We believe each man must find the truth that is right for him and reality
                     will adjust accordingly. We believe there is no absolute truth, except
                     the truth there is no absolute truth.  We believe in the rejection 
                     of creeds and the flowering of individual thought.

Turner finishes with this thought, “If chance be the father of all flesh, then disaster is its rainbow in the sky.  And when you hear a state of emergency, sniper kills 13, youths go looting, bombs in schools, It’s the sound of man worshiping his maker (Romans 1:25).   We are reaping what we have sown.”
        At this point it might be very tempting for Christians to say that it's all too overwhelming. There's not very much that I can do.  But will this attitude bring about God's redemptive purposes on this planet?  Every Christian has a sphere of influence. For some it may be our family, or our job, or neighborhood, for others a wider impact.. The saving and transforming power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the hearts of people is the only hope for this world.  Mother Teresa was once asked how the world could  be changed with such massive needs.  Without hesitation she replied, "one person at a time."
         Our struggle is not against flesh and blood ( Ephesians 6:12).  We are called to hate sin but love the sinner.  Those who call us bigots are just sinners in need of grace, just like you and I at one time. We make the mistake of starting a battle in the Spirit and ending up in the flesh, involving hurt feelings and egos.  In such cases, we always lose.  We are called to fight but our weapons are not carnal, but they are mighty for the pulling down of strongholds (II Corinthians 10:4).  Our double-barreled weapon is truth administered through love.  We take no joy in exposing sin, but we do it because we love people enough to tell them the truth.  There is no person or society that can be truly free that rejects the truth.
            When any society starts to say that good is bad and bad is good, it shows its moral fiber is being ripped asunder. Christians have not only the right but the responsibility to resist. Toward the end of Henry’s famous speech he said, “Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish?  What would they have?  Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery?”  I submit to you that when we are told that we can decide what we believe and practice it in the pulpit but not in the marketplace and government, this is a form of tyranny. It makes the church a toothless tiger.
            Patrick Henry spoke of a death.  For us it may not be a physical death, but death to our reputation, death to our seeking the praise of man, resulting in the freedom to serve and glorify God as our conscience demands.  The Apostle Paul admonishes us to “Fight the good fight for what we believe” (I Timothy 6:12a NLT).  My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, I know not what stance you may take, but I echo the words of that famous patriot and follower of Christ from the state of Virginia  “give me liberty or give me death.”

Image used with permission by Microsoft.

Ken Barnes, the author of “The Chicken Farm and Other Sacred Places”  YWAM Publishing