Recently I read an e-mail explaining the attack on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and calling for a month of prayer and fasting. The obvious response is: How could we as a “religiously free” country have come to this? It is something I think many Believers all over the US are asking themselves right now. We have been watching this anti-religion trend over the last few decades like a new form of cancer- growing and seemingly without a cure. It’s saddening.
My Bible study today seemed especially attuned to this problem. The passage was Psalm 39. Here are a few verses that stood out to me:
"And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in you. Deliver me from all my transgressions. Do not make me the scorn of the fool! (Psa 39:7-8) When you discipline a man with rebukes for sin, you consume like a moth what is dear to him; surely all mankind is a mere breath! Hear my prayer, O LORD, and give ear to my cry; hold not your peace at my tears! For I am a sojourner with you, a guest, like all my fathers. Look away from me, that I may smile again, before I depart and am no more!" (Psa 39:11-13)
The following prayer resulted from it.
Our country is experiencing a vicious downward turn of a self-created cycle. Over the years we have grown complacent because of “acceptable” sins and a desire to avoid confrontation. America wishes to be the land of prosperity whose arms are open to all so we no longer take a stand on so many important things. With our lips we may say certain things are important but when confronted with someone of opposing views we avoid or even deny those things- like religion or the sanctity of life. We (Christians) embody the saying “Live and let live”. But then come along those who cannot. They take a stand, even if it is a misguided one. But we Believers all too often do not. In an effort to not “push our beliefs” on others, we stand for… nothing. And then we wonder why those same people who have been dominating the soapboxes for so long won’t let our desires be heard. Now, if we take a stand, we are “intolerant” when it is truly the other person who is choosing to become intolerant toward us. Just because we have ascribed to “live and let live” doesn’t mean they have. So now we have the fallout from that raining down about our ears. The seemingly innocuous prosperity and love “gospels” have now brought about their inevitable results: the need for a Religious Freedom Act. We have not taken a stand before now and “loved” people to this end. (Was it truly loving to not honestly tell people that they are sinning? Was it love to blind people to their need for You?) Jesus at least told it like it was. Sure, people hated Him for it, but they also had their sins exposed so they were “without excuse”. He proved His love for them by showing a concern for their soul. Do we do so? Do we dare? Do we even love?
LORD, now we- I- am forced to come before You and the world to beg for our/my religious freedom. And I do so with a little bit of shame because we got ourselves into this mess. Forgive us, Father, for failing to love. Forgive us for esteeming our own comfort and church numbers more than our calling to make disciples, more than our calling to be like You. Help us now, Father, to lay aside complacency. Help us to regain our religious freedom. Help us not to waste it. Give us the courage we need to be both honest and loving, even in the face of being ridiculed and called intolerant. Help us to guard our tongues and our hearts for Your glory. Guide our country back to You. Teach us to speak and act in love. Let others see You shining through us. Give us joy in the midst of persecution. Amen.