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We’re finishing our summer sermon series in Galatians this month and I have really enjoyed preaching this book. It has challenged me to see freedom differently. Through most of this letter, Paul is turning us away from a religion of works to simple acceptance of our freedom in the work of Jesus. As Paul says, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free” (Galatians 5:1). Jesus also said, “If the son sets you free, you shall be free indeed” (John 8:36). It would appear, Jesus is a freedom lover too. But something has happened to what freedom now means in our country.

For over 200 years, we have celebrated our independence—our right to do as we please in governing our own lives as a nation (within reason and law). What a wonderful country we live in, despite all its faults and failures. What wonderful freedoms are offered to us as citizens of the USA. The rest of the world hungers for what we have. One of those freedoms is what the Bill of Rights calls “freedom of religion.” We can believe and worship
God without punishment or threat.

Many thousands of Christians around the world die for that right every year. Yet in America—a country established for that very right—many will not give God the time of day. Now millions would prefer to celebrate freedom FROM religion instead of the freedom OF religion. God is no longer welcomed anywhere except in a church building. It is not Hinduism, Islam, philosophies of reincarnation, or New Age they want out. Primarily
they just want free from God and Jesus Christ.

Today, much of society ridicules and mocks those who are serious about their faith. America’s only respectable form of bigotry is bigotry against Christianity. And the only reason for hatred of religion is that it forces us to confront matters many would prefer to ignore. Sin! To a great extent our society has gotten what it wanted—a society without God. But what good has it done? Are we a better country for it? We all know the answer to that. NO! Pain, crime, and atrocities of all kinds are all up! Division in every area of American life is off the charts. Few people believe we’re better.

In the 1940s, teachers identified the top problems in America’s schools as: talking out of turn, chewing gum, making noise and running in the hall. Today, teachers listed drugs, alcohol, pregnancy, suicide, rape, assault, weapons, and fear of mass shootings.

I think what bothers me more than anything is that people are losing their capacity to be shocked, disgusted, and repulsed. As God said, “Are they ashamed of their detestable conduct? No, they have no shame at all; they do not even know how to blush. So they will fall among the fallen; they will be brought down when I punish them, says the LORD” (Jeremiah 6:15).

What is the answer? We must speak the truths of God without apology and without being ashamed. After all, if we have employment and greater economic growth; if we have cities of gold and alabaster, but our children have not learned to walk in goodness, justice and mercy, then the American experiment, no matter how gilded, will have failed.

The Lord also said, "If my people which are called by my name will humble themselves, and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from Heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land" (2 Chronicles 7:14).

Can America be turned around? If America wants to, then yes. But first, Christians need to take a stand for God to show the country the “good” it is missing. Often it is the Christian who remains silent. Thank goodness our forefathers didn’t choose the same.

Ron Otto, preaching minster at Lincoln Christian Church


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