I was listening to Christian radio this morning and heard a story about a gathering held by Louis Palau in France. According to the radio host, this was the first Christian conference allowed in a public venue in Southern France. This is just one example of the spiritual struggle in Europe. Sadly, though we may consider Europeans our equals on nearly every front, including technological and financial, and though our Christian heritage was handed down to us through them, Europe has become a spiritual desert over the last three centuries.
I find the whole idea quite disturbing the more I think about it. While Christians are still the majority in the United States, in nearly every other corner of the world they are the minority, and not just the minority, but a persecuted minority.
Those of us living in the U.S. don’t generally realize how blessed we are to have the religious freedom that we do. We get angry because public schools no longer pray or say the Pledge of Allegiance, but really we should be thanking God that we have a government that allows us to pray, read the Bible, and preach openly, without fear of retribution. Many of us don’t realize how rare those rights are compared to the rest of the world.
This post seems rather appropriate coming on the heels of our Independence Day celebration. While barbequing, swimming, and setting off fireworks to celebrate our country’s independence, we should be thinking about the specific freedoms that our country grants us, such as the ability to worship God freely.
In particular, we should be thinking about the responsibility that our religious freedom carries. The responsibility not only to take advantage of that freedom for ourselves in the form of personal worship, but also the responsibility we have to “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation” (Mark 16:15). In other words, if we aren’t serving God in our spheres of influence, using the gifts He gave us, we are wasting the freedom that has been bestowed upon us by God’s grace, at the expense of the countless soldiers who have died defending that freedom.