Spiritual Freedom

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On July 4, 1776, the Continental Congress met in Philadelphia and accepted the final draft of an important document, the Declaration of Independence, which declares that ALL men are created equal and have basic rights given by God. The purpose of having a governmental institution is to protect those basic rights, which Thomas Jefferson defined as life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Many Americans will celebrate this historical day by gathering for cookouts, going to watch fireworks and/or proudly displaying the American flag at their homes.

As Christians and American citizens, we are privileged and blessed to live in freedom. Some freedoms we enjoy include living out our faith through worship, reading the Bible, and prayer; voting; pursuing happiness and speaking our minds. But sometimes we forget that these freedoms are a gift we should not take for granted. In the future, there may come a day when our freedoms are taken from us.

Therefore, we should be mindful that there are millions of people around the world who are denied the same freedoms we have simply because they are Christians—people referred to as the persecuted Church.

“For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake.

— Philippians 1:29

According to Open Doors USA, Christian persecution, defined as any hostility experienced as a result of identification with Christ, is an ongoing issue for our brothers and sisters. Some examples of persecution in the world include forced conversions, confiscation or destruction of property, denial of legal rights, arrest, imprisonment, job discrimination, educational discrimination, bodily harm and/or death. Christian women are considered most at risk due to their gender and faith.

“Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

— Matthew 5:11-12

We are not two separate churches or two separate bodies of believers—there is only one according to Scripture. Those of us in the West are one body with those in parts of the world being persecuted.

“Just as the human body is one, though it has many parts that together form one body, so too is Christ. For by one Spirit we all were immersed and mingled into one single body. And no matter our status—whether we are Jews or non-Jews, oppressed or free—we are all privileged to drink deeply of the same Holy Spirit.

— 1 Corinthians 12:12-13

The lives of our brother and sisters demonstrate that even when things appear out of their control, there is a knowing God who is in charge. And He will provide whatever is necessary to sustain them through their hardships, whether it is grace, courage, peace, strength, joy or even rest. May we in the Western world remember that we are one Body in Christ Jesus and we need one another.

“Fear not, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed. I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.”

— Isaiah 41:10

When those who suffer for Christ have the ability to see through spiritual eyes, God shows them that demonic forces are behind the persecution. And He gives them understanding that it is unnecessary to respond in the same manner. The battles they face are not against flesh and blood; rather, it is a spiritual war we as one Body can fight together. (Ephesians 6:12)

Although the persecuted Church around the world is being assaulted and in chains in the physical realm, we need to remember that in the spirit, they are not. They are free! Our brothers and sisters have been delivered from this evil world and are seated in the heavenlies with the Lord. Spiritual freedom was bought by the blood of Jesus 2,000 years ago when He made a public spectacle of defeating the enemy on the cross.

“In this way, he disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross.”

— Colossians 2:15

So this Independence Day, let’s remember to pray for the persecuted Church. Here are some ways you can pray this week.

1. Pray that they will experience God’s presence and peace.

2. Pray that they will remain joyful in the midst of their suffering.

3. Pray that they remain grounded in God’s Word and grow in their faith.

4. Pray that they have opportunities to share the Gospel with God-given boldness and courage.

5. Pray that their activities are hidden from authorities or others who may want to harm them.

6. Pray that the Holy Spirit enables them to forgive and love their persecutors.

7. Pray that the Lord would work in the hearts of those who are persecuting the Church, bringing them to the saving knowledge of Jesus.

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Thank you for sowing into the persecuted Church and standing with our brothers and sisters worldwide.

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