I was speaking in a small church in a small town in rural Georgia a number of years ago. The pastor and his wife along with their beautiful family were an incredible example of God’s holy love to the struggling congregation. He was and is an educated man. She was just as well-educated. They are the kind of people who are a tribute to any community. Except that they believed that the Holy Spirit gave people an ability to pray in a language they do not understand. Their small church shared that belief.
This godly couple reached out to severely marginalized young people in their community. Young people that were mocked because of their learning disabilities. Which coincidentally were more environmental than heritage. The only problem was the heritage of racism and lack of tolerance for people who worshipped differently than the rest of the community.
The times I had the opportunity to worship with them, service was always inspiring and things were done orderly and with a sweetness. I talked to people who parked their cars so other people in the community could not see their car. If it was discovered that they were going to “that church” their business would be boycotted.
Some of those “kids” came to youth camps that my wife and I led. They were terrific. They were respectful. They were grateful. One of them believed God was calling him to be a pastor like his white pastor. He came from poverty. God provided! He received a full scholarship and went on the seminary and into the ministry! Nothing is impossible with God.
The young pastor and his family eventually moved on to another field of labor where they serve productively.
Which brings me to my point for tonight. Let’s don’t mess with the first amendment!
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.
This amendment protected the right of the pastor and his wife their congregation. It didn’t shield them from ignorance, racism and religious bigotry. However, God shielded them and gave them a fruitful ministry! I’ve never preached in a pulpit with more joy and gratitude as I felt in that little church.
There’s a lot of controversy over the so called Ground Zero mosque. So I want to weigh in with my thoughts tonight. Actually, I’ve wanted to all week but this is the first moment I have had to sit down and write. I’ve read pros and cons from both sides. Inevitably I’ve heard the talk on television, radio and even in some of the calls I’ve made this week as a pastor. Here goes!
This is a country with first amendment rights of freedom of worship! If the imam wants to build a mosque, let him build a mosque. It is a roguish choice to build the mosque next to ground zero, before a proper memorial to the victims of terrorists is built. Terrorists who committed their evil in the name of Islam.
I’m sure that some evil people who do not understand the source of our political freedoms or have never tasted those freedoms will see the construction of a mosque at Ground Zero as a triumph of Islam over the United States.
But it is the price of the freedom we enjoy to worship freely.
If a congregation wants to plant and build a church and the community doesn’t like it because people “speak in tongues” or the people pray to “Mary” they are free to do so. The freedom for them to worship is the same freedom for me to worship where I do, without the medieval fear of a cleric burning me at the stake. Its the freedom I have to worship at a church that a Hitler would not approve of without the fear of prison and death like the confessing church experienced with the Nazis. This is the United States of America.
Their not building churches or synagogues in Saudi Arabia. A few years ago the mullahs murdered the General Superintendent of the Assemblies of God in Iran. I recently met with a Christian from an unnamed Muslim nation who can’t speak openly of his faith for fear of his family’s lives as well as his own.
God bless America!
Let everyone understand however that this freedom came because of the the Judeo-Christian heritage of this nation. It wasn’t because of Islam, Hinduism, or humanism. And it sure wasn’t a Democrat or a Republican.
President Bush always reminded us that we were not at war with Islam. Let’s not blow it by acting like we are. We are at war as a nation against those who plan, plot and promote violence against the United States.
As followers of Jesus Christ we are at war with evil and Christ showed us how to fight this fight of faith. Where there is hunger lets feed them, where there is sickness lets heal them, where there is blindness lets bring light. Let’s then tell the wonderful story of God’s Amazing Grace in Christ! He promises that He will be with us as we do and wonderful signs and wonders will follow that message!
As a passionate follower of Christ, our weapons are not carnal, but spiritual and mighty to pull down strongholds.
Who’s praying for the Muslims? Prayers with groaning that can hardly be uttered because the Holy Spirit is praying through us!
Who’s serving in the name of Christ without fear of being perceived as weak? Meekness is strength under control.
Who’s sharing the good news of Jesus with their Muslim friend, allowing the the opportunity to hear and consider who Christ says He is? And still loving him/her if they decide to not confess Christ as Lord of all.
Who’s modeling the Jesus style life to their Muslim friends? A life of love, compassion, gentleness and purity that is evident to all.
I promise you this lifestyle will be far more effective than some of the flamboyant rhetoric by politicians and commentators on either side of the issue, pro or con!
Where were those politicians during some of the most intense times of need in days gone past? I agree with David Kuo in his sad book, Tempting Faith, politicians need compassion and religion as “political cover” and “political tools.”
In summary, I don’t think it is a good choice, but it is the strength of our first amendment. Let’s be Christians, let’s be passionate followers of Christ! With Him as our model, we will stay true to the mission of reaching lost people to the glory of God and not railing against the Caesars, the Greeks, or the sons of Esau. However we might have a problem with the Pharisees and Sadducees!
What are your thoughts? Do you have any suggestions? I would like to hear your comments as well.
Peace and Joy from Detroit!