18 Aug Freedom
One of the things that makes our country great is the freedom to express ourselves, whether that be through speech or religion. The freedom of religion is the most important thing to me. In fact, the main job of a military chaplain is to ensure the 1st Amendment rights of service members are protected. All should be provided the ability to worship, with the unit’s operational concerns given priority.
Our country is governed by laws. We are told what we can’t do and what we can do. We are told that others have rights that allow them to say things, some of which we might disagree with passionately. We are also given the right to express ourselves, even with opinions and beliefs that others may despise or reject.
The term hate speech has been thrown around frequently these last few days in the wake of the events in Charlottesville, VA last Saturday. People from across the political landscape have yelled, screamed, and threatened people on the other side. Each side is attempting to decide for all of us how we can express ourselves. This is such a slippery slope, because it all makes perfect sense until we are the ones designated to lose our rights of religion or expression. It is a difficult pursuit to protect everyone’s rights and what we feel we deserve.
That is a challenge that government has but Jesus doesn’t. We don’t get to go to Jesus and claim any rights. We can’t throw ourselves down in a grocery store (or at church), kick our shoes off, and have a fit about what we deserve or want or think is our right. In fact, Jesus says unless you follow Him and humble ourselves like children, we won’t see the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 18:2-4). We may have rights in the U.S.A., but we don’t have them as citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven.
When I found out about the violence and loss of life on Saturday, I posted to social media that there is no “whites only” section in heaven. That is tame, I know, but it’s not the first thing that came to mind. As much as it is easy to get caught up in the emotion and the hate and the calls for blood, we don’t have that right. Followers of Jesus can’t say we hate anyone. We aren’t allowed. I know that is hard when everything inside of us wants to retaliate, but Jesus is stronger than our hate.
I find hope in the truth that when we strive to be more like Jesus, He responds to us. It won’t always be easy to live like Him, but that is what we signed on for. We don’t get to tell Him what we are going to do; He tells us. We are citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven after all, and love rules there.
Blessings to you,