THE WORD: Religious freedoms

Published 7:26 am Thursday, July 12, 2018

Coming off this past Independence Day celebration I cannot determine if I am saddened and disillusioned or hopeful and optimistic. I took time to reflect on the many freedoms we have in our country.

I thought specifically of our religious freedoms. Despite what you may believe, you can pray in school. You can hold FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes), meetings after school like with any other club. We can pray to any god, tree, entity or spirit we want; in public and without too much fear of being beaten down for it. I think of this freedom and feel optimistic and hopeful that through these freedoms we can share the gospel message.

In America, we can share our faith without being imprisoned, being beheaded or being asked to leave the country. I am hopeful because it means we are still free and there is still opportunity to grow the faith, share the faith and reach others for Christ.

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Contrary to that is this feeling of being disillusioned and saddened by the state of Christianity and the religious or spiritual condition of our country. So much anger and bitterness. So much division. So many people with so much hatred in their hearts.

I become disillusioned because the hope, peace, salvation and grace offered by God through Christ seems to have become lost in this muddied world of politics, political correctness and worldly pettiness. Christian turning on Christian because one is a Democrat and the other Republican. Non-Christian turning on Christian because of differences in faith. Human turning on human because of differences in skin color, education, economic position, social hierarchy and/or sexuality.

Why are we worried about what some other country is going to do to us, whether they like us or not, whether they want our business or not, when we don’t even seem to like each other, want to share common ground with one another, or even try to get along amongst ourselves?

When addressing the church in Rome, the Apostle Paul wrote the following in Romans 16:17. “I urge you, brothers and sisters, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. 18 For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery, they deceive the minds of naive people. 19 Everyone has heard about your obedience, so I rejoice because of you; but I want you to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil.”

I believe each of us should be a little wiser about what is good, guard against those who cause division, and keep our hearts and minds focused on the mission, message and ministry of Christ. A little more time spent in trying to get along may just help us to … well, get along.

REV. BARRY VASSAR is pastor at Fitzgerald Memorial Baptist. He can be reached at