The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is part of the Bill of Rights and protects core American civil liberties.
The First Amendment: The Right to Freedom of Religion, Freedom of Speech, Press, Peaceful Assembly, Expression.
Sadly, the freedom of religion is becoming more like the freedom from religion, and too often more specifically, the freedom from Judeo-Christian religion.
I've heard the former governor of Louisiana, Bobby Jindal, say, "America did not create religious liberties; religious liberties created America."
The book of Jude shows us that there would be a spiritual battle, and that there would be an increase of apostasy, false teachers and teachings; increased attacks on the church, even on God and His Word.
In these days of increasing apostasy and false teaching, those who love God's truth will not be liked for speaking the truth. But this cannot stop us from the work of the kingdom which we are called to—speaking His word and sharing His love. We cannot be discouraged by what we see around us, retreating into our holy huddles and disengaging from a world that so desperately needs to see our light.
We must be fully prepared—mentally, emotionally and spiritually. We must be fully engaged, with our eyes fixed ahead and our hand to the plow, ready to work in the harvest fields! Let us put aside distractions. Let us put off discouragement. No more double-mindedness or doubting.
We have been the beneficiaries of the blessings of God. Our nation was founded on godly principles, with a strong Judeo-Christian ethic, and as a result we have known God's blessings. Even those who are not Christians have become beneficiaries of these blessings. And God's intention for us, just as with Abraham's promise, was that we would in turn be a blessing to other nations.
I believe this generosity comes from the Lord, and allows us to hold onto God's redemptive thread as a nation. By caring for those in need, the church has given the nation access to God's promise in Isaiah 58:8b (NASB), that in our time of need for healing, our "recovery [would] speedily spring forth."
Throughout our history, we have been a blessing to other nations. And it is my belief that from a benevolent standpoint, the church in America is what made America great. No matter what difficulties we have gone through, as a whole, we have always been a generous people. We have given to those who are suffering from disasters or hard times, both in our own country and in other nations, regardless of their personal preferences, political persuasion, pigmentation or religion.
Our race, religion, and relationships are all factors that influence our ideology. In turn, our preferences are easily influenced by and filtered by our ideologies. May our ideology be defined and based on God's character, word, nature and Spirit.
As followers of Christ, it is imperative that we surrender our personal preferences and ideologies for the ideologies of God's kingdom, not man's. "The kingdom of God is built on relationships, first with God, then with one another." May we be reminded to love God with our whole heart, mind and soul, and to show Christlike love to others, even those who we may not agree with ... or even those who may not agree with us.
I must be careful not to look at race, personality or personal preference. Instead, we must ask ourselves the honest questions: What do we believe? What is it that influences us? What is our ideology and what it is based on? And most importantly, we must answer: Will I make my decisions based on personal characteristics or past experiences that filter my way of seeing things, or will I make my decisions based on the ideology of God and the character of Jesus?
Do we base our decisions on what brings honor to God?
As followers of Jesus, we must live by our convictions, based upon the characteristics of Christ, rather than by our personal preferences. Our preferences are influenced by many factors, but as Christians, our lives are to be surrendered to God through Christ Jesus.
All kingdoms, principalities and rulerships are subject to the preeminence of Christ Jesus (Col. 1:9-18, Eph. 3:10 [authority given to the church]).
(some extrapolations from a 2012 article by Doug Stringer)
Doug Stringer is founder and president of Somebody Cares America and Somebody Cares International, a global network bringing hope and healing to communities through prayer initiatives, compassion outreaches and cooperative efforts. He is author of numerous books, including In Search of a Father's Blessing and Leadership Awakening: Foundational Principles for Lasting Success.
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