The Irony of Freedom of Religion

We hear it all the time (at least in the “Christian World”) of how underground churches thrive in several Asian countries where Christ—the act of following Him or even mentioning His name—is strictly forbidden. We hear countless stories (and I mean that quite literally) of people seeking after God hours upon hours upon hours, reading His word, worshiping Him, calling out to Him in prayer, hungering and thirsting for every drop of Jesus they can squeeze into their souls in a 24-hour period. Hour after hour, day after day. They are desperate for Him. Where’s our hunger? Where’s my hunger? Why do we…why do I not thirst for God and His word? Yeah, I read it a several times a week (on a good week) and I pray about as much, maybe a little more than that. But to honestly thirst for Him is something different. I want to thirst for Him as the psalmist writes in Psalm 42: As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?” (Psalm 42:1-2, NIV). I want Him to be as essential as food and water.

Is oppression the only way to really understand the blessing we have right in front of us, at our fingertips, completely accessible all day every day? I mean, we can study whenever and wherever we  want (for the most part), yet we—at least I— struggle to spend even an hour a day reading, learning, growing, and worshiping the One who saved us from eternal damnation in hell. The One who took my place, your place, on the cross. The One on whom God saw all of our sins, past and future, hanging on that old rugged cross. He took your place. He took my place. That fact alone should be enough to worship Him.

I look again to the Asian countries and other countries where Christianity is forbidden and begin to question, “Why is the forbidden so attractive?” It seems as if we will only really enjoy doing something if it is forbidden. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard phrases like “Smoking was fun and entertaining until I turned 18,” or “Drinking was awesome before I turned 21. Now I have to find something else illegal to do,” or even “Sex was more exciting before we got married.” We have a sinful nature. We naturally want to do what’s forbidden. We want what we can’t have. Freedom of Religion. Hmm. They don’t have it, yet the passion and fire they have for the Lord is absolutely incredible. Admirable, really. We have this freedom, yet we’ve become so jaded to Jesus. We, as a body, are lacking this passion. Ironic? I’d say so. I feel that we take the freedom of religion for granted because there’s nothing at stake. I mean, honestly, what are we really sacrificing in going to church every week, reading our Bibles at the local coffee shop, having Bible studies at the park, etc.? Cool point? A little bit of sleep? A show on TV? When we aren’t sacrificing much, we don’t appreciate much. I firmly believe that sacrifice, appreciation, and growth are all positively correlated. You can’t have two without the third. We’ve lost our appreciation for this freedom and sacrifice is quickly becoming an archaic practice in Christian circles. With a low appreciation of this freedom and an almost non-existent amount of sacrifice, how much can we really grow?

I know these thoughts were a tad scattered today, but I just had these thoughts and wanted to get them down and out.

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