“I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—which is really no gospel at all.” Galatians 1:3-6
Those are strong words written 2,000 years ago by the Apostle Paul to the church he established in Galatia. However, I feel like they have a very applicable tone as we navigate the waters of the church in America today.
In many ways, American Christians have turned or are turning from the truth of the Gospel.
Before I continue, I want to emphasize two things. One, Paul’s letter was intended for those in the church who had already received the gospel as taught by Paul. My intention is the same. Two, these words are simply my opinion. My hope is not to provide an answer, but simply encourage a conversation.
Each of us has the freedom to determine what we believe to be true and the Truth will be revealed when we search for it ourselves.
To The Churches in America
“Am I trying to win the approval of men, or of God? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Galatians 1:10
I was out of town speaking when news broke of the Supreme Court’s landmark same-sex legislation. By the time I returned, some of my friends’ faces were now covered in a rainbow façade, while others were offended and angry.
But rather than just seeing rainbow pictures and Second Coming language, I saw the aftermath of a bloody battle—a battle that wasn’t fought with guns or fists or knives, but a battle fought with words.
The aftermath of the court’s ruling caused war to break out on a new type of battlefield. Our social media space showed remnants of grenade-like words and tactful attempts of enemies who used their fingers like bullets. Their words pierced the armor of the computer screen and penetrated the hearts and minds of those who read them, further dividing the chasm.
For hundreds of years, men and women gave their lives so that we could join together as one nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all. But now, it seems like we’re anything but united.
The Cost of Freedom
For years, we have claimed that America is the land of the free and home of the brave. We are a free people and in the name of freedom, we do brave things.
But what is freedom and what is bravery, really?
Each word implies an imposing force: we have to have something to be free from and we have to have something to be brave for. For some we fight for a greater cause like America. For others, we simply fight for our agenda.
But I am reminded that America isn’t Christianity and Christianity isn’t American. Although we have a long-standing majority of Christians in this country, the truth and freedoms afforded to us by this country are not the source of our truth and freedom.
However, what we do with our freedom says everything about what we believe. The truth we must understand and steward well is that the freedom we’re afforded here in America cost something. In fact, it cost more than we care to realize.
To date, more than 1.3 million have died in the name of that freedom.
You and I are indebted to them and to each other to decide what we are going to do with that freedom.
So when we go on social media and write what our freedom allows us, remember that is a privilege and a blessing that someone died for.
While the freedom that we have as Americans cost more than 1.3 million lives, true freedom—freedom from sin—cost one life. And that is the life of Christ.
So with the freedom that I’m afforded in Christ, I want to share something about the true freedom.
I believe that, one day, we will all have a Truth that we have to answer to. It is a Truth that cannot be imposed by a government, preached at our churches, taught in schools, or given to us in our bloodline. It is a Truth that can only be revealed in us as we search for it.
Elements of this Truth will be shared in those forums, but we must decide for ourselves what we believe to be true.
I believe that Truth is the Gospel and I believe that it is the only thing in our lives strong enough to carry the weight of our lives. The Bible says that if we seek we will find, if we knock, the door will be opened. So, I spend my days seeking this truth, knocking at the door, praying that it will be opened and revealed in me.
I implore you to do the same.
Our brothers and sisters have been fighting over issues of the law for millennia. This bickering and backbiting has caused serious dissension that troubles me deeply.
In his letter to the church in Galatia, the Apostle Paul reminds us of the Truth that was preached:
“You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge in the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. The entire law is summed up in a single command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.” Galatians 5:13-15
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. God loved us so much that He sent His son as a ransom for us, a captive people—a people enslaved by sin. Before we believed, we were slaves to that sin. Why would we choose to be enslaved again?
Jesus came and died so that you and I could be free. Our freedom is precious, but how we use it says everything about what God is doing in us.
We are to live by the Spirit of Christ and not let ourselves succumb to the desires of the flesh: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissections, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like.
This Fourth of July, as we celebrate independence and freedom, I urge you to consider what you believe about the freedom that you have in Christ and how you are using that freedom. Remain captive to these desires no longer.
Instead, hold fast to the Truth and watch the Spirit bear fruit in your life. The fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
If you’re afraid, His spirit is not at work. If you feel His power, become a vessel of His love, and learn to control yourself, He is doing a great work in you.
Celebrate your freedom, but use that freedom to hold fast to the Truth and share it in love because God will do a great work through His people.
But He must do a great work in us before He will do a great work through us.
“The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brother. Amen.” Galatians 6:18
About the Author
Matt Ham is an author and speaker who helps people understand that their whole life matters. By adding perspective rather than answers, he encourages a radical shift in thinking. He is the founder of the Live Richly Foundation, an organization built upon the idea of investing in others.
You can learn more about his book, Redefine Rich, or you can join the newsletter by entering your information below.