Tomorrow, we, as a nation, will celebrate Independence Day. On July 4, 1776, representatives from 13 colonies formally signed the document that declared our independence from Great Britain. Thirteen years later, James Madison introduced amendments to the Constitution — the Bill of Rights.
Our religious freedom is guaranteed in Amendment One:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
We are privileged to be part of a nation with this constitutional provision.
As believers, we are aware that not all people across the globe enjoy this liberty. Some Christians today worship in secret; others are in a prison cell for their faith in Christ. Because of persecution, some families have been forced from their homes with only the clothes on their backs. Many others have died.
Christians have been persecuted for their faith since the stoning of Stephen in Acts 7, but statisticians tell us that more Christians died as martyrs during the 20th century than in any time in history. And the slaughter continues.
While the annual number of Christian martyrs cannot be accurately calculated, one writer noted: “Most martyrs suffer and die anonymously, unknown, forgotten, their deaths unrecorded except in heaven.”
As believers living in freedom, we know our responsibility is to pray for those who suffer for their faith, while also doing everything in our power to preserve our freedoms. But we also know that true freedom only comes through Christ.
Today, 4.4 billion people know NOTHING of freedom from sin and Satan’s oppression. Our responsibility reaches beyond prayer. We must go or send someone in our place. The apostle Paul said in Romans 10:13-15
For, everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”
May we celebrate our freedom with joy and gratefulness and also soberly accept our responsibilities to pray, give and go.