Worship Empowers Religious Liberty

Church Family: 
Would you know if your religious freedoms are being taken away? The first amendment to the United States Constitution begins like this, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof …” We now live 250 years after that was written and we find ourselves struggling to uphold religious freedom in our American culture today.

What exactly is religious freedom? Religious freedom is much more than just enjoying the “freedom to worship” on Sundays at GCT. Religious freedom means that you do not have to go against your conscience and beliefs at work, school, or any public setting when there is a pressure on you to conform to their moral and ethical standards. Any work, school, culture or government that intrudes on conscience will not hesitate to intrude on your other freedoms as well. Religious freedom protects our right to speak, to act and to live according to our beliefs.

What do you do when your conscience is being pressured to conform to culture? In Ezra 4, we see that the Persian Empire was manipulated by government officials. Over 90 years of history in Jerusalem in Ezra 4 (536~445BC), the government counselors were bribed and even a king was manipulated by a letter full of lies, bootlicking and whining to get several successive kings to stop God’s people from rebuilding the Temple, Jerusalem and the city walls. They succeeded at stopping God's people in each generation. Each king after Cyrus (Ezra 1) ordered God’s people to stop building the Temple, Jerusalem and the wall and they obeyed. God’s people had given up their religious freedom to rebuild the Temple and worship “as it is written in the Law of Moses.”

God’s people feared and obeyed man rather than God. Then other things became more important than worshipping God in His Temple. Their own homes (Haggai 1) were their priority and they had “mixed themselves with the people of the lands” worshipping their gods (Ezra 9:1-9). Worshipping God and obeying Him was not a priority so their religious freedom was easy for them to give up.

When the culture around us or our government puts pressure on our conscience to conform, run to God and worship Him. This sounds simple but this is where the battle begins. Worshipping our Creator God clarifies our values and emboldens religious liberty. It reminds us of eternity and what is of utmost importance - our triune God. Worship reminds us that this is not our home and that Christ has come to secure our eternal home for us. Worshipping God renews our boldness and fight to live according to the Spirit and not the flesh conforming to the world. In Ezra 4, God's people failed to worship God and their values became like the world around them. Let our worship declare God’s transcendence, His authority over all things and our commitment to Him. Let our worship strengthen our fight against the world’s pressure on us to conform; the fight against the flesh’s call for us to indulge in it; and destroy the devil’s effort to distract us from following God (Eph. 6:12; 2 Cor. 10:3-4). Worship God and love your freedom to live out your Holy Spirit led conscience to the glory of God.

See you Sunday, worshipping God together: Steve

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