Happy 4th of July and Independence Day!
Today these United States of America collectively celebrate 232 years of being an independent Sovereign Nation. We have so much to be thankful for and of course one of the greatest freedoms we have in America is the right to worship as we see fit without the interference of the State.
Baptists believe in and teach that local churches should be free—free churches govern themselves without any interference from the state or another hierarchal body or entity. (Today there is a Free Church denomination, but I am not using these words in that sense.) This belief or doctrinal persuasion significantly separates us from many other Christian denominations and religious organizations. It seems most appropriate to remind you of this point of difference and Baptist distinctive on our Nation's Birthday. Many lives were lost in defense of the establishment of an independent Sovereign Nation where people of all persuasions could worship God or chose not to worship God as they see fit.
This fundamental right of all Americans needs to be protected at all cost. Baptists have stood for the separation of church and state from the very first Baptist church established in America in 1638 (over hundred years before America's birthday). If you don't know anything about the first Baptist church in America check out their website at http://www.fbcia.org/. Roger Williams was their first Pastor/Elder in Providence, RI. Those of you familiar with US History will recall the significance of the Rhode Island colony and see why FBCIA started in RI.
Sunday we get another opportunity to take advantage of the liberties that men and women died for in the establishment of a Nation that gave its citizens a bill of rights. Let me remind you of the first amendment to the Constitution:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."
Sunday morning you can get up and come to church without any fear of interference from the government of the United States of America or any of its states or cities. Isn't that wonderful? Consider for a moment the number of countries on the planet where that isn't possible and then thank the Sovereign Lord of the Universe for the freedoms He has in his Divine Providence granted us.
Now the government isn't going to interfere Sunday morning but the flesh might—so discipline the flesh, keep it in control (1 Corinthians 9.27). Don't let the flesh have the victory on any Sunday morning or evening for that matter, gain and sustain the victory week after week as long we have the freedom to worship as we see fit we should take full advantage of it.
See you Sunday!