RELIGIOUS FREEDOM


STANDING STRONG THROUGH THE STORM

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM
=================
“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it
hated me first. If you belonged
to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the
world, but I have chosen you out of the
world. That is why the world hates
you. Remember what I told you: ‘A servant
is not greater than his master.’ If
they persecuted me, they will persecute
you also. If they obeyed my teaching,
they will obey yours also. They will
treat you this way because of my name,
for they do not know the one who sent
me. John 15:18-21

Ron Boyd-MacMillian concludes his two-part analysis of
religious freedom in
our country:

It was a persecuted Christian in the
Middle East who gave me the eyes to see
that religious freedom always needs
protecting, wherever one is.

“Freedom is fragile,” she said. “Religious
freedom is not about having the
right laws to protect belief—that’s a myth
put out by the human rights
community. No, religious freedom is protected not
by laws, but by a climate of
respect and openness that ensures the laws are
correctly applied. A toleration
law, for example, can be used for or against
Christians. Christians always
have to fight to ensure the climate is
tolerant.”

She added, “I don’t care what country or state you live in,
you also live in a
culture that hates Christ. That’s your fight, and every
Christian on the earth
has the same fight, whether you belong to a so-called
Christian society or
not.”

She was right. A climate of prejudice
against Christians has crept up by
stealth in western cultures, even in
apparently Christian ones. We are in a
battle in our own backyard. Thank you,
persecuted church, for awakening me to
the fight!

As Ron writes, we
are in a battle even at home. It doesn’t take much
insight—or even
imagination—to assess the direction of the moral slide in our
free societies,
especially in the Western world. Biblical values are
disappearing and secular
philosophies with a pseudo-biblical aura are fast
taking their
place.

As I’ve travelled and spoken in western countries, it is not
uncommon to have
folk share with me how they lost their employment because of
their faith. They
had not been obnoxious nor spending company time
witnessing. They had simply
expressed their support for biblical principles
that were being violated.
Jesus warns in our scripture today that this
treatment is because of His name.
Let’s make sure that it is not because we
refuse to be His salt and light.

RESPONSE: Today I will walk with my eyes
open to the reality of anti-Christian
prejudice. And I will retaliate with
the only weapon Jesus authorized: love
for all others—even my perceived
enemies.

PRAYER: Lord, I know that because of Your life in me I am bound
to generate
negative reactions. Help me to respond in a truly loving manner
as You
exemplified and be Your salt and light in a darkening world.

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