Religious freedom.... What exactly do you think about when you hear that phrase? And how often do you actually thank God for it? That's our topic today.
I must warn you that I am not doing today's post from a religious and very theological point of view, but from a "stay-at-home-mum" point of view.
Wikipedia - that font of knowledge where maybe every other word might be true - defines freedom of religion as "is a principle that supports the freedom of an individual or community, in public or private, to manifest religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship, and observance". For me it's the freedom to worship my God in any way I chose, without the state or government interfering.
But how often do we actually thank God that we can play worship music in our homes, meet together each Sunday as a body of believers - for the most part in a public building - and hear God's Word preached, meet other believers in a public restaurant and bow our heads to say grace before we eat, or talk openly about our faith to anyone we meet?
There are so many people that don't have that freedom. We constantly hear about Christians being persecuted for their faith. In countries like China, North Korea, Burma and Sudan it is dangerous to even mention God. They have to use secret signals to alert others if they think they are being followed, or meet in secret places, turning music up full volume if then want to pray together. My husband has travelled a lot and some of these situations have actually happened to him. It is horrible to think that what we take for granted is something amazing and special to others. One country he worked in allowed foreign nationals to have a church but local people were forbidden from attending. It is truly shocking.
But the amazing thing is that some of the people that we have met, who have to endure these circumstances, are some of the most godly people we know. They know sections of the Bible in a way I never will. They pray more than I ever could. They rely so much more on God than I ever have. They are simply amazing. A child-like faith that means more than all the fancy talking theology you'll ever hear.
So my challenge today is two part. Firstly take some time to truly thank God that we live in a country that allows us religious freedom and allows us to worship God freely. And secondly, take some time to read up about some of the amazing people who don't have this freedom. There are lots of ways to help, support and pray for them, and as it says in Hebrews 13:3 -
"Remember those in prison, as if you were there yourself. Remember also those being mistreated, as if you felt their pain in your own bodies."
and Romans 15:30 says
"Dear brothers and sisters, I urge you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to join in my struggle by praying to God for me. Do this because of your love,
given to you by the Holy Spirit."
A couple of links are below but this is by no means all there is. So please take some time and actually think about our brothers and sisters in Christ from all over the world. And if you need a reminder, why not take a leaf out of this family's book - read there story here!