In the movie Jurassic Park, after being introduced to the island and the process of cloning dinosaurs, Dr. Ian Malcolm said, “Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.” It’s a great scene right before everything goes wrong as Dr. Malcolm is proved right.
Sometimes, I wonder if Christians face a similar problem.
It doesn’t take a lot of time on social media to find someone concerned about the war on Christianity. Coffee drinkers, county clerks, bakeries, t-shirt printers; the list could go on for quite a while. Christians are concerned about the loss of Christian values and American rights.
We do have the ability to voice our concern under the first amendment. But sometimes I wonder if we take the time to consider whether or not we should.
While I am incredibly grateful for all the men and women who sacrificed so I could have my rights, I can think of five reasons I would give up my first amendment rights if necessary.
1. My allegiance is with a different kingdom.
This is by far the most important reason. My primary concern in this life is not the promotion of the United States of America (no matter how incredible her demonstration of freedom may be). No, my primary concern is the promotion of the kingdom of God.
On a side note, I often catch myself forgetting the reality of this kingdom. Sometimes it seems like an abstract concept for heaven or something else that won’t affect how I live now. This is a dangerous and unbiblical view I have to fight. God’s kingdom is very real and is coming even now. In the end, there will be no other nation or kingdom but his.
Because of this, I choose to pledge allegiance to the final kingdom first. This means everything I do must consider the benefit it would bring to this kingdom, even if it means harm or danger to myself, my family, or the great country in which I was born. This is where my full loyalty lies and will remain.
2. Complaining about my coffee cup isn’t producing positive results.
One of the great values we hold in America is the freedom of individuals to speak as they wish. Thanks to social media, we see plenty of this nowadays. It’s a truly great thing and well-worth the sacrifice of those honored men and women who paid for it.
With free speech, Christians are able to proclaim the Gospel and preach in nearly every opportunity that comes their way. It allows Christian books and media to be distributed freely and openly. It allows churches to assemble as a community in public. It’s quite a valuable freedom.
At the same time, since my allegiance lies with another, I have to consider this great freedom expendable if necessary. If my free speech isn’t producing positive results, I need to either change my method or stop speaking altogether.
After all, many of the early church didn’t have free speech, yet their numbers grew. We see the same thing happening in countries where Christians face persecution. While free speech is great and useful, perhaps it doesn’t have the value we might think for the kingdom of God.
3. I can’t force unsaved sinners to behave like moral saints.
I struggle with this reason. It becomes especially tough when issues like gay marriage come up in current events. I firmly believe God has given every person the freedom to choose between good and evil, between him and their own way. It was this way from the beginning (Genesis 2:16-17).
If two people choose to behave outside of God’s designed order, they have the freedom to do so. I have no problem with their God-given freedom to choose evil. I do have a problem when that evil inflicts harm on those who did not choose it.
I also firmly believe the best family structure consists of committed heterosexual parents who raise children to follow Jesus. For this reason, I want the best for any child out there, and want each child to have the best family situation possible. This isn’t to say that single parents can’t raise fully devoted followers of Jesus; it only means it’s less than optimal. I’ve yet to meet a single parent who says, “I wish I could keep doing this on my own.”
Anyway, my struggle comes from this desire to see children have the best family situation that’s at odds with a person’s freedom to choose good or evil.
I cannot go beyond God’s gift of free will and force others to choose good. I can’t force those who have chosen evil to behave like saints. The responsibility for an inner transformation that chooses God’s way over evil lies with God alone. I can point the way to him, but I can’t force others to listen to his calling or head toward him.
4. The loss of rights isn’t the worst that can happen to me.
The absolute worst thing I could imagine happening to me as a Christian would be the loss of my salvation and hope. I would have no reason to live, no reason to do anything good ever again. In fact, Jesus hinted at this when he taught us not to fear those who can kill the body but not the soul (Matthew 10:28).
That said, the loss of any American right (inalienable or not) can’t be the worst that could happen to me. If my allegiance is with the kingdom of God, rights become a valuable tool, but not a necessity. And nothing that can happen to me at the hands of other people can do any harm to my standing in God’s kingdom.
In other words, losing my rights would mean losing valuable tools like the ability to write this post or preach in public. But it wouldn’t mean my mission for God’s kingdom had changed. Nor would it mean anything detrimental to that mission.
5. Jesus taught me how to respond to adversity.
Finally, Jesus made it very clear that I would face trouble in this world (John 13:33). He also taught me to turn the other cheek (Matthew 5:39), to love my enemies and pray for my persecutors (Matthew 5:44). He taught me to give my coat as well to those who sue me for only my shirt (Matthew 5:40).
This is life-altering stuff. For today, perhaps it would mean praying for the members of ISIS who beheaded our Egyptian brothers. Perhaps it would mean giving our bakeries to those who sue us for refusing to make a cake. Perhaps it would mean forgiving my executioner with my final words.
My instincts drive me to take advantage of my American rights and stand up for myself and my freedom. But when the benefits for the kingdom of God are at stake, Jesus calls me to lay down my rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. My allegiance lies with him and his kingdom.
The rights I have as an American are incredibly valuable, well worth the sacrifice of those who paid for it. But as valuable as they are, they only serve my primary allegiance. When they no longer serve my primary allegiance, I would gladly give up my right to freedom.
This may be a difficult post for you to read; you might disagree. I’m still working through these issues and welcome the conversation. Let us know what you think in the comments and let’s grow through this conversation.