I don’t believe God guarantees to us a free exercise of religion; however, I am grateful that by his providence, I live in a country where this is guaranteed. It is enshrined in the First Amendment of our U. S. Constitution.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
There are many countries that do not have the protection and freedom of worship. Many are subjected to forms of persecution if they engage in a religion not sanctioned by that particular government. Should the people living in those countries feel abandoned by God?
I don’t believe so. The Bible tells us plainly that this world is not our home. We are aliens and strangers here. In fact, God used persecution of the first church for the spread of the gospel to the nations.
What God does promise or guarantee to us believers, is that he will be with us always. Always means through every circumstance, be it persecution for our faith or any trial. He promises to be with us. He is with those saints in other countries where they are not free to worship, just as he is with us who are. So, how do we live as those whose God is always present? We ought to live as the Apostle Paul, who lived so as to not be a stumbling block.
Nevertheless, we have not made use of this right, but we endure anything rather than put an obstacle in the way of the gospel of Christ.1 Corinthians 9:12b
The Apostle Paul saw himself as a servant, as one who, though certainly have rights, but willing to forfeit his rights for the sake of gaining some to Christ.
For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law.1 Corinthians 9:19-20
He goes on to say that he aims to become all things to all people to win to Christ whomever he could.
Shouldn’t we be willing to forfeit our rights for the sake of others? I wrote about this when the global pandemic first started in Has Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness Made Us Selfish?
I am convinced by the word of God, that wherever we live, and under any government system, we have been made free, free to serve Christ wherever we are, although it may not look the same in all places.
To my brothers and sisters who do live where we are free to openly worship the true and living God, I repeat the Apostle Paul again:
For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”Galatians 5:13-14
In the book of 1 John, the Apostle John spends a lot of time speaking about love. He says in one place how can we know God whom we have not seen and not love our brother who we do see. He also says:
Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.1 John 3:18
The world is watching us. What are we showing them? Is it a love of neighbor?