This week, tens of thousands of people stood in long lines to support a company which had been under fire for words said and dollars spent. Although there were various motivations within those enormous crowds, it seems as though the vast majority were there in support of free speech. The specific topic of the speech in this situation was homosexual marriage, but people from both sides of the coin on that topic ate their chicken sandwiches as a support for an American’s right to free speech. I can assure you that I ate delicious, flaky, buttery biscuits three times within a week as my own support of Cathy’s right to free speech. My kids and I ate there so many times, my three-year-old son stated this morning, “I’m ready for my morning biscuit.”
However, a new thought has been whirling around in my head. What if God isn’t really concerned about freedom of speech in America? From what I can tell, His ultimate goal is for EVERY PERSON to know Him and understand his immense love for them (“for God so loved the world that He gave His only Son…”). So it seems like as His followers, we Christians should live our lives with that ultimate goal at the forefront. Jesus’ Great Commission to us is, “Go and make disciples of all nations…” All along as I’ve thought through the CFA situation, I’ve tried to think about how it fits within that goal. I’m now wondering, is the continuation of free speech in America within God’s over-arching plan of reaching all people with His love?
We Christians in America have had it pretty easy for a long time. I personally love my comfortable life. Right now, I’m sitting in a cozy glider rocker with my feet propped on the matching glider ottoman in my spacious living room typing about God on my computer (which I plan to post on the internet, where potentially anyone in the world can read it), while my children each sleep peacefully in their own large bedrooms and my husband plays a video game on a different computer in a different room. All of this is in a well-lit, air-conditioned home. If I decide I’m hungry, I have probably a hundred choices of snacks – junk food, veggies straight from the local farm, cereals, frozen foods… I have it good, and I am incredibly grateful for every detail of it.
A lot of Christian organizations fight hard for keeping our freedoms in America. There’s a big emphasis on keeping Christian values front and center in our nation. All of that is great for keeping our comfortable lives in America, but is it helping with God’s ultimate goal? What has been the result of American Christians having so many rights and such comfortable lives? A fair amount of spiritual laziness, to be honest. Especially across the Bible Belt, there is a culture of Christianity that is not any indication whatsoever of a person’s actual relationship with God. There are plenty of people who have been going to church every Sunday their whole lives, but only because that’s just what you do.
We want to keep our nation “Christian” and comfortable. But what if that’s not what is important to God? When we’re comfortable, we’re less likely to actually rely on God. Christianity becomes more of a feel-good “cause” or culture, rather than a fully dependent relationship with God.
Is it important to God that we continue to have free speech in this nation? If we didn’t, our reliance on God would be significantly greater. To be a follower of Christ, you would have to really take it seriously.
How would Jesus have handled this CFA-focused controversy? What response would fit best with God’s ultimate goal? In the Bible, we see a lot of times when Jesus got frustrated, even angry, when those who had studied the scriptures were doing things contrary to His ultimate goal. On the other hand, he lovingly socialized with sinful non-believers. He had completely different expectations for the two groups. I’m trying to remember, but I can’t even think of a time that he called out a non-believer’s sin in anything other than a gentle conversation, and even then, it was only after he had connected with the person and begun building a relationship. Then, after receiving that loving attention from Jesus, the person wanted to change his or her behavior.
A non-believer is going to live a sinful life. We shouldn’t be surprised by that. And we shouldn’t expect anything else. It’s only after discovering the power of God’s love and Christ’s sacrifice that any of us have motivation to “live rightly.” Paul described this so well in his letter to the Romans:
When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation. For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son. So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.
What would Jesus have done on Wednesday? As I think about it now, it doesn’t seem like one nation’s free speech would have mattered that much to him. It seems more likely that he would have been off in a bar or on the streets or somewhere building a loving relationship with a sin-filled person who did not yet know the power of His love.
“The Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8