I’ve had conversations with a number of friends in recent months who are concerned about what they see as an accelerated erosion of the foundational principle of the free expression of religion in our nation. They have shared with me their fears that the upcoming election may have some impact our ability to serve God and worship Him freely in our nation.
My friend and fellow pastor Justin Jackson addressed this issue in a Facebook post recently. Here’s what Justin wrote:
I’ve heard many Christians openly fear that November is the make-or-break moment of our religious freedom. So here’s this…
If November comes and our religious freedoms are PROTECTED for another four years, I hope:
- We’ll cross the street share the gospel with that neighbor we’ve known for years.
- Finally make gathering with local believers a true priority and stop skipping church for lesser things.
- Dust off our Bibles and allow God to rekindle our affection for him every morning–making our devotional time the most important part of our day.
- Lead our families in worship and adoration of God.
- Stop being selfish and serve others even if there is no apparent benefit to us (which may mean getting a baby’s spit-up on your nice shirt while serving in the church nursery).
- Stop saying things like, “I don’t like to pray out loud” and join the many prayer groups our churches offer.
- Give to the cause of Christ and support global and local missions as our primary endeavor.
- Find someone to disciple and meet with them regularly so that they may grow stronger in their faith and understanding of Jesus.
- Stop making excuses and finally prize getting together with other believers on days other than Sunday–joining things like a small group so that we can publicly hang out with others who love Jesus.
- Declutter the sports calendar and the endless extracurricular activities so that we have time to breathe and enjoy the Lord.
- Be equally bold and loving (both convictional and gentle) to all so that people may see Jesus in our words and deeds.
- Stop pretending as if men or the state of the nation can affect our walk with the Lord, and actually take time to walk with him.
Justin’s post reminded me of a poll that was done years ago. People who told pollsters they were very upset by the removal of the Ten Commandments from public schools and other public buildings were asked how many of the Ten Commandments they could cite from memory. The average number was four. Even more interesting were the listed “commandments” that are nowhere to be found in Exodus 20.
I also want to share with you this week this Twitter thread I clipped a few weeks ago from a friend and fellow pastor Dean Inserra. He was reflecting on what he was already starting to see happening among church people in his hometown of Tallahassee FL. His syntax is a little choppy, but that’s Twitter for you. And besides, he lives in Tallahassee! (couldn’t resist that one).
“I know it’s happening already, but you are gonna see people leave their churches over political differences. Not even because of the pastor, but friends. Not woke enough, too woke, don’t get it, etc. It is not exaggerating when it is claimed to be religion.
“Gonna see right wing folks leave their gospel centered churches for more of a God and Country, who talk about riots more than race, everything is about ‘our values,’ red meat Fox News church.
You’re gonna see progressives leave their gospel centered churches to places that talk about racial justice every week, and the pastor tweets anti Trump regularly. Hating Trump is religion.
It’s coming fast. I can even tell you where each “camp” ends up in town.
Gospel lite, America strong. The gospel is the last 2 minutes of a sermon to set up the required invitation. Or the gospel is merely social. Everything is about shared personal experiences, being mad about parents religion raised in, and what’s wrong with the church.
Choose gospel centrality. It will make you uncomfortable in all the good ways. It will stretch your views about everything political and identity. Gospel centered churches – it won’t be enough in the eyes of our 2020 world, but stay the course. The hope of the world.
The church is not going to divide over theology or the Bible, but American politics and secondary identities. We should grieve.
That’s our plan at Redeemer. Stay true to the gospel. In season and out of season. Where the gospel addresses the issues we’re facing in our world, we will seek to proclaim that loud and clear. And we’ll do what we can to make sure it remains the main thing – the truth around which we can find our unity.
Good thoughts for us as we move toward Election Day 2020. Keep praying! And keep looking to Jesus as your source of peace, hope and joy.
Ever since we moved into our new church home, we’ve been looking for ways we can reach out and serve our new neighbors. With COVID, that’s been a challenge. But we’ve come up with something we’re going to try in a few weeks.
HALLELUJAH FEST TRUNK or TREAT – fRIDAY, oCT. 30
On Friday night, October 30, we’re going to open up our church parking lot for an outdoor HallelujahFest Trunk or Treat event that is designed for all of our own kids and for kids in the nearby neighborhoods around our church building. We’ll have 8-12 cars with trunks open for some kind of candy winning game – a bean bag toss into a bucket in the trunk or a squirt gun target game – things like that. We’re inviting kids to come in costumes, visit each of the “trunks” where the games are going on, win some candy and get a card punched showing they won a prize. Once a child has filled out his or her punch card, they can bring it to us for some additional candy and, if they’re interested, a copy of a kids Bible story book. We’ll also include an invitation to join us for a Sunday morning service.
We’re still working out all the details, but here’s how you can help.
- Would you, your family, a group of friends, your small group, whatever – would you like to be one of the trunks? All you’d have to do is put a simple game together and man your trunk in a socially distanced manner. We’ll provide you with the candy to give away. Sound like fun? Let Jen Gurney know you’re up for it (might as well email her before she emails you to ask for your help, right? Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org ).
- The other thing you can do is bring a couple of bags of candy with you to church over the next few weeks. We’ll have a collection box for your candy contributions. Pick up a couple of bags of goodies the next time you’re at the store.
- Finally, start now praying that God will use this event to help us demonstrate love to our neighbors and build relationships with people in our community. Pray that God will water the gospel seeds we’re hoping to plant that evening.
We’ll have more info about this event coming soon.
NURSERY RE-OPENS – sUNDAY, OCT 4 – AGES 0-3
Sunday morning, October 4, our nursery re-opens for kids ages 0-3. You need to register your kids. You can click here to let us know if you’re planning have a child or two in the nursery on October 4. Please register today – no later than Thursday, October 1. That will help us make sure the nursery is fully staffed this Sunday for our kids.
We’re back in our study of the life of Jesus this Sunday. We’ll look at the end of John 7 and ask the question “why did religious people in Jesus’ day hate Him so much?” And “why do people in our day hate Jesus?”
See you (in person or on line) Sunday!
Soli Deo Gloria!