Today our fellowship showed a short video as a tribute to our veterans. Before I say what I'm going to say please understand that I mean no disrespect to those who followed their consciences to serve our country. I may not always agree with our country's political agenda, but I do have a lot of respect for those who have and continue to serve.
The video can be found here:
It was developed by the Beamer Films video company. In keeping with the growing norm in the christian community this professionally produced video is very well done. It states its point fairly well and is highly emotive. It appears, at least in our fellowship, to easily connect with its target audience if the applause at the conclusion was any judge. But I did take issue with one of its claims. The narrator spoke about the freedoms that have been fought and bought for by our vets. I won't argue with that. But around 00:50 the narrator says,
"Which also includes the God given right to worship our Creator any time, any where. Which leads us to the other type of freedom, a greater freedom that can only be found in Christ who died as a ransom to set us free. This is a freedom from a life of futility. Freedom from the tyranny of sin, regret, hate and bitterness. It is the freedom to love God and love your neighbor."
Before I give my comment on the above paragraph let me state for the record that I understand this is a short video. It is extremely difficult to explain yourself in two minutes. I get that. So I am not claiming these people are a bunch of heretics or something. I really don't know one way or the other and given the chance they might be able to rebuttal my comments by clarifying what they meant to say. I am only commenting on what they said in reference to what I see is the usual mindset in churches today. In other words, I am not trying to be mean or judgmental. I am only making some observations and hope these observations will help God's people check their hearts and shore up their theology where it needs shoring up.
There is a patriotism that is so embedded in the American psyche that it influences our theology in such a way that if we are not careful we can propagate something that is, at best, less than accurate. At worse it can actually become another gospel altogether (although I don't believe that is happening in this video). The above quoted narration says something that at first seems right but in actuality it goes beyond the Scriptures. Do we have a "God given right to worship our Creator any time, any where?" If this is speaking about a theological right, that is one which is the result of our relationship with God, then the answer is 'no'. We have a command to worship God and him alone (Luke 4:8). We also know that unless God intervenes we don't even have the ability to obey that command (Romans 3:9-18) let alone a right. So it really can't be that we have a God give right theologically. If anything we may rightly call it a privilege, for without God's grace we would never do it in the first place.
How about politically? It may be the video is speaking about our right as in the freedom afforded us as citizens of this country. I think an argument can be made that we don't have a right to worship our Creator anytime, anywhere. Maybe once upon a time we did, but this is less true today. And according to Romans 13 this lack of freedom is also God given. What is my point? We need to be careful to not make the assumption that our freedom to worship comes to us politically. It does not. Romans 13 also points out that all government comes from God. The government of Paul's day was that of a conquering world superpower which gave rise to such people as King Herod, who ordered the death of all the children two and under in his hunt for Jesus, or Titus, who leveled Jerusalem in 70 AD. War has typically only brought pain, suffering and more war (Someone once said, "He who lives by the sword shall die by the sword") and politics have typically served the politicians more than their constituents (by which I mean the "regulars" and not the rich corporations and and other special interest groups. I also recognize we all, in some way, benefit, but that benefit is, as it were, runoff. But that will have to be a different post by a different poster).
In fact, this video is saying both. Our right is theological and political. At 01:28 the narrator says,
"We want to say many thanks to the veterans who have served to preserve our political freedoms which allow us to freely worship our creator who gives us that greater freedom we all so desperately need"
It is true that we do have more freedoms than many countries and that the ability to worship the way we do is, at least in our minds, better than being told we cannot. But in the end there is only one true freedom and that freedom is found in Christ Jesus (John 8:36). And that freedom means we are free to worship our Creator any time, any where. Is this a right? No. Most Americans will be horrified to learn that we have far fewer rights than we might think. But it is a privilege and as much as I love our veterans and truly appreciate their sacrifices, we must, as Christians, make sure we understand clearly and can say without hesitation, that true freedom can only come through One who made the ultimate sacrifice for us. Period. Yes, let us tell our veterans we appreciate them. But at the same time let's be very careful how we try to mix politics and theology.