by: David E. Smith
Syndicated by: Montana News
My family and I recently had the opportunity to hear about the great work being done in South Sudan by a man named William Levi. During his presentation, in which he detailed many of the projects underway in Borongole, a city of 5,000, he stated that the Christians in South Sudan are praying for Christians here in America.
My mind focused quickly on those words. They are praying for us?!?!
Levi explained that the United States is the beacon of hope for the entire world. In the eyes of many around the globe, the world’s well-being is, in large part, dependent on the continued well-being of the United States. Surprisingly, Levi wasn’t primarily talking about the monetary wealth of this country. He was referring to the long-established liberties of our nation.
His comments reinforced for me the validity and urgency of defending religious liberty and self-government in here at home. The efforts to defend Judeo-Christian values and to preserve civil liberties are not just for our benefit and our posterity. We often fail to understand how our liberty not only affects our immediate neighbors and fellow believers whom we are called to love, but the free and robust exercise of our liberties directly impacts our global neighbors and brothers and sisters in Christ all around the world.
Romans 12:2 states: “…Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…” The advance of Christianity turned the Roman world on its head! From a position of political impotence, early Christians made such a profound impact, not only by spreading the Gospel but by living the Gospel, that they literally upended the corrupt and perverse Roman culture that surrounded them.
Likewise, by the manner in which we live our lives, we also are charged to fulfill Jesus’ command to “disciple the nations.” (Matthew 28:19) In essence, today’s believers are called to be world-changers, just like the first century Christians.
Viewed in light of these scriptures, our dedication to preserving liberty, specifically religious liberty, is paramount and far-reaching. In the 21st century, Christianity is spreading and penetrating farther and deeper than ever before – in Muslim strongholds across the globe, in Africa, and throughout South Sudan – precisely because Americans have been afforded the liberties to live out the Gospel as they pursue religious training, missionary work, and humanitarian efforts at home and abroad.
Christian love and genuine concern for others compel us to exercise our right to religious liberty as we organize food pantries, provide homeless shelters, become foster parents, operate pregnancy resource centers, and reach out to those struggling with immoral sexual behaviors.
Our Constitutionally-mandated right to religious liberty is also why we encourage Christians in the United States to take an active role in the governance of our communities, because government, like marriage and family, is an institution God created for His glory and for the well-being of mankind.
While the 2016 Presidential election season has been extremely frustrating and indicates, yet again, that we have reached a new low in our social and political culture, it’s time we face facts – the race for the White House is not as important as we tend to make it out to be. Truth be told, believers and churches throughout America have a far greater impact on our culture than the influence of any Chief Executive who occupies the Oval Office.
Yet, regardless of the messiness of the process, the depravity of our culture, or the apathy of some Christians, those of us who are wholeheartedly dedicated to following Christ must be willing to stand firm and do our part to make a difference. Dereliction of duty is reprehensible, even when the duty is tough. And dereliction of duty is especially reprehensible when I recall William Levi’s statement – the Christians of South Sudan are praying for us! (And we should pray for them!)
Though our task may seem hopeless or beyond our ability, we are being lifted up before the throne of grace by the prayers of the body of Christ in South Sudan. Praise God for the fervent prayers of these believers! Praise God for the prayers and support of believers here in the United States! Praise God for the power of the Holy Spirit at work in us!
At all times and in all situations, we can faithfully accomplish whatever task the Lord sets before us because we are equipped and empowered by His word, by His Spirit, and by the prayers of His people. When we rest in God’s sovereignty, we readily relinquish our fear of failure or need to control, and instead follow where He leads, confidently obeying and entrusting the results to Him. May you be a blessing to those in your home, in your church, and in the public square as you live a life transformed by the Gospel of Jesus Christ!