By Nikki Dabney
Go ahead, take my religious freedom.
I don’t say that flippantly. I value my religious freedom, and I’m deeply grateful for it. I get to gather with other believers every week. I get to carry my Bible, my sword, with me everywhere I go. I get to pray over people in public. I get to say His Name and shout His praises on social media.
But I do all this, not because my government officials deem it acceptable, but because I’m unraveled by a Perfect Love, and all I want to do is know Him and make Him known.
And I’m ready.
I’m ready to give up everything, to suffer, to watch my family suffer, for the sake of the gospel. The unchanging God has always been worth it. Paul and Peter knew it. The persecuted church around the world knows it. And it’s about time America knows it.
When Peter and the other apostles were arrested for teaching in the temple courts, they were questioned before the Sanhedrin, and the apostles said, “We must obey God rather than human beings!” They were flogged and ordered not to speak in the name of Jesus. “Then, the apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah” (Acts 5).
When the Communist Party established rule in China, it sought to eradicate religion. When that didn’t work, they decided to allow official, state-sanctioned churches with government approved or appointed leaders, who preach false teaching and political ideology. However, lovers of the truth have formed an underground church, and in 20 years China will be the largest Christian nation.
The Christian nation our parents grew up in was cultural Christianity. Everyone went to church because that’s just what you did. I pity the generation who was fooled into thinking they were saved because they were American and considered themselves pretty good people.
But a blind allegiance to the Christian moral ethic cannot be maintained apart from salvation. The world has already redefined murder and marriage, and it’s going to continue to call evil good and good evil (Isaiah 5:20). This shouldn’t surprise us. Why would they worship the ways of the God they don’t know?
“For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot” (Romans 8:7).
So my question for you is one I ask myself every time I look at the tattoo on my wrist: what is your hope in? What makes you think everything is going to be okay after the presidential election? The empty promises of a politician? The Supreme Court? Congressional gridlock and judicial restraint? And then ask yourself what okay means. Is it the status quo? Is it safety? For those of us with an eternal hope, okay might mean suffering.
Our charge is the same one Paul gave his disciple Timothy:
“Preach the word…endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist…I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:1-8).
I’m excited for what is to come. True believers will rise up. False idols will not stand. God will move in supernatural ways. The gospel will spread like wildfire. Let’s go, church.