What does it really mean to celebrate our freedom in America? This past weekend we celebrated that we are a nation that was liberated from tyranny. Our forefathers had enough of empty promises and taxation without representation. The United States of America is not perfect but our constitution was written to guarantee our freedoms. Freedoms like living where we please and working to support our families. The freedom to worship as we see fit without the government mandating which church, synagogue or other house of worship we choose to attend. We have the freedom not to worship, which close to two thirds of Americans seem to choose as church attendance is at an all time low.
For the first time in my 48 years of public ministry the government had to mandate that we were not allowed to gather as communities of faith. In our case from March 22, 2020 through May 10th we could not have any more than ten people in our sanctuary. This was for our benefit to slow the spread of Covid19. Then we gradually had more attend and on May 31st we opened up with two services at 8:15 & 10:00 am with only part of our sanctuary full so that we could social distance. Many of our people longed to return to the Calvary’s sanctuary and worship with their brothers and sisters in Christ. We have had about two thirds of our congregation return for public worship. During this time we have provided online worship has continued through FaceBook live on Calvary Baptist Sedalia’s page and on YouTube and will continue to do so for those not ready to return. It is for the protection of those who are most vulnerable to getting the virus that we surrendered our right to gather. I want to unequivocally say that everyone who can needs to return to their respective houses of worship as soon as they possibly can. Worshipping from home in your pajamas with a bowl of cereal is not the same as being with God’s people in the house of God. What we miss most is the sense of community with the family of God. I for one hope that we are never again asked to give up the freedom that we have to gather and worship with our family of faith. These freedoms were purchased with the blood of patriots who died in our place. Let me encourage all who previously worshipped in person every Sunday to get back to being the gathered church.
There is another freedom that was purchased with the blood of the ONE who was sacrificed for all men for all sin. Hebrews 10:10 & 14 says, “And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy” The sacrifice by Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary paid for all sin for all men. All that we can do is place our faith in Christ alone who shed his precious blood for all sin. If you have never done so before this is the only way to be free from the penalty of paying for your own sin, trust Jesus Christ as your sacrifice. The Bible clearly says in John 1:12, “but as many as receive Him (Jesus Christ) to them HE gives the power and authority to become the children of God, to those who believe on his name.” When you do this the verse from John 8:32 comes true for you. “Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.”
With freedom comes responsibility. While we are free to do as we please we are not free to harm others in that process. God reminds us in Proverbs 14:34 that “Righteousness exalts a nation but sin is a reproach to any people. My heart has been saddened in the last six weeks as what were to be peaceful protests turned into very ugly rioting, arson and looting. We do not have the freedom to express ourselves in such a way that others property and lives are in danger. It is never right to do wrong to do right. Let’s pray together that we will follow the words of Jesus when he said, “By this shall all men know that you are my disciples that you love one another.” My recommendation is that we live by this law of love. Let’s do this and gather together to worship, we will be stronger and more unified if we do.