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How can we best use the gift of freedom of religion?

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POSTED: July 10, 2012 5:00 p.m.

The Fourth of July is so much more than just cookouts, concerts, the beach and fireworks.

It’s a time to remember our Founding Fathers and the brave men and women who built our great nation and secured the freedoms we have known for 236 years. It is sure and certain that this great nation we enjoy — and many take for granted — is founded, firmly rooted and established on Christian principles.

Patrick Henry said, “It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded not by religionists but by Christians, not on religion but on the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

George Washington advised us to not “let anyone claim tribute of American patriotism if they even attempt to remove religion from politics.” And Thomas Jefferson added, “The First Amendment has allowed a huge wall of separation between church and state with a one directional wall. It keeps the government from running the church, but it makes sure that Christian principles will always stay in the government.”

The freedom to worship that we enjoy is built into each generation on the shoulders of only a few. There are no institutional leaders, in fact. There is only personal leadership and godly leaders forged by mutual responsibility. When that happens, God’s agenda displaces individual agendas, and great things happen that transcend cultural progression.

There are people who live in places where Christian worship is either illegal or persecuted. But in our great country, there is nothing to hinder us from gathering to pray, sing, rejoice, fellowship, have Bible studies or Scripture lessons when, where and as often as we like.

Religious freedom is indeed a privilege and carries great responsibility that extends well beyond our private lives and fellowship with friends, family and church members and should never be taken for granted.

Those who consider themselves followers of Christ have additional responsibility and accountability. We are called upon to live our faith in such a way that we influence all the people around us by our words and actions for the sake of God’s kingdom. This daily lifestyle response sets us apart from the world as true Christians. It shows others that the way we handle problems is the result of us being given the freedom of our faith from our heavenly father and is a testimony of our being set free from our old selves.

Do you remember when you were baptized, repented of your sins, were buried with Christ and were raised to live a new life? Do you also remember your day of baptism and confirmation when you made your profession to Christ? Do you remember the simplicity of your words, “That you believe in Jesus Christ and accept Him as your Savior,” and by doing just that, you started to walk the talk and make a bold declaration?

We celebrate the Fourth of July perhaps as a reminder that, although we are blessed to be citizens of the greatest earthly nation, we are, above all, citizens of Heaven and representatives of a living God.

Considering everything, do your choices reflect the character of our Lord? Are you able to forgive, show love and grace and serve others as an example of real freedom in Christ?

If you are not sure of answers to those questions — whether you are a believer or not — and have wondered long enough about life going in the proper direction, call 320-7840 for an appointment with a trained and caring Stephen Minister.

We work with individuals in a one-on-one, confidential and faith-based environment until the answers are clear.

We will walk with you through your difficulties for as long as it takes.

We also are connected with professional referral services as needed or requested.

Learn more at stephenministries.org.

 

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