HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY!

This holiday is a day to remember the formal adoption of the Declaration of Independence. The 1776 Continental Congress fought for freedom from tyranny knowing this bold step could lead to their deaths. Freedom came with a cost. As we celebrate our freedom today, I am thankful for everyone who is and was a freedom fighter.

While we are physically free from tyranny, we are also spiritually free. Spiritual freedom is holding those beliefs that exist in the heart, mind and soul of each person who believes in God. Fortunately, such beliefs cannot be controlled, given, or taken away from anyone regardless of the kind of government or leadership a person lives under. But spiritual freedom came at a cost too. It took Christ to die on the cross to bring us this freedom from sin and the finality of death.

Sadly, it seems there is now an all-out attack on those who express religious freedom by believing in the Bible. Christians are regularly accused of being judgmental, bigots and haters when they hold fast to biblical standards. These accusations come from people who don’t understand the Christian faith. They don’t have relationships with Christian friends and isolate in their own circles. Consequently, they portray Christianity incorrectly and won’t stop the attacks until we adopt the same secular beliefs as they do.

This growing hate for anyone who thinks differently is a spiritual problem. Yet, sin is not acknowledged as the culprit behind this growing division in our country. Unless the heart is transformed by the love of Christ, it is inclined to evil. Jesus warned us that this Gospel will offend those blinded from the Truth. Thus, the more Christianity is marginalized and taken out of the larger culture, the more hate you will see.

This Independence Day I urge you to pray. Pray for those who twist the teachings of Christ and try to make Christianity look scary, discriminatory, and oppressive. Nothing could be further from the truth. Pray the voices that accurately represent Christianity will not silenced and marginalized.

Ironically, true Christianity is a force that combats hate. Christianity is needed in this country. The teachings of Jesus will bring unity, not division. They are not based on hate or hurting those who think differently.  True followers of Christ love others and bless those who curse us, pray for those who despitefully use us, and even love our enemies. Love is the mark of the true Christian. Jesus said we should be known for our love.

Jesus is not a hater, judgmental to the sinner, nor a discriminator of people. He is love. To understand Christianity, you have to understand who Jesus really is rather than rely on some misguided representation of him we often hear.  If you want a true picture of Jesus, I recommend that in addition to reading the Bible, you also read Philip Yancey’s, The Jesus I Never Knew. These two resources will provide an authentic picture of Christ and His teachings. Then, regardless of what you hear in the culture, you will know the truth.

May God help us to represent Christ better and be known for our love. May religious freedom continue to ring in America.

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