It seems as though every day something else finds its way into my news feed regarding religious freedom. It could be the freedom to live and breathe in the face of militant fanatics obscuring for the public the tenents of their belief system. It could be the freedom to deny services or goods to people on the basis of whatever notion someone finds repugnant. I do not say this to belittle those fights, for certainly there is much to be said about governments working to maintain peace and justice in the world. That is their job, to protect those entrusted to their care. Certainly this is not always the case. Governements can appear to be as greedy as their constiutents. Additionally, I fully recognize that no authority on earth is established by anything other than God’s ultimate authority (Rom. 13). But frankly, I think it is time to change the conversation going on in the church.
The church exists by virtue of the work of the Holy Spirit who calls, gathers, and enlightens belivers by means of word and sacrament. This work of the Holy Spirit is centered in the life, death, and resurrection of the Lord of the Church, Jesus Christ. That means that the continuing existence of the church is not dependent upon anything other than Christ. As the old (and my favorite) hymn goes, “The church’s one foundation is Jesus Christ her Lord, she is His new creation by water and the word, from heaven He came and sought her to be His holy bride, with His own blood He bought her and for her life He died.”
Threats will come to the church, to the body of Christ as individuals and as groups, but they will not prevail. In reality, perhaps it is better to suggest that nothing, in actuality, threatens the church. The Iron Curtain could not curtail the life of the church. The whisper of death only breathes life into the lungs of the bride of Christ. Nothing can actually threaten the church because the Lord Christ has already guaranteed her survival. I cannot promise that the sun will rise tomorow but I can promise that the church will exist tomorrow because the Son already rose.
So… stop fighting for my “religious freedom” because you cannot guarantee what has already been established for all time. The church does not need the government to defend it because the church is defended by Christ Himself. He guarantees her eternal existence. The Holy Spirit works to maintain the life of the church through Christ’s own word and sacraments. The church is a people of the promise, not made by man, but by Christ her Lord…
“In this world you wil have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)