Celebrating Religious Liberty & Faith That Matters
Just a day after remembering the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr., Americans are being called to reflect on the importance of religious freedom as they observed religious freedom day on Tuesday. And, in Luke 5, Jesus boarded Peter’s boat to teach the crowd gathered to hear Him speak. Peter had a front-row seat. As he listened, he heard about living by faith instead of religious observance.
Just a day after remembering the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr., Americans are being called to reflect on the importance of religious freedom as they observed religious freedom day on Tuesday.
“The constitutional right to practice our faiths peacefully and openly is a core tenet of our democracy and helps us fulfill one of our highest aspirations as a Nation: to be a citadel of liberty and a beacon of freedom,” said President Joe Biden in a Jan. 12 release proclaiming Jan. 16 as Religious Freedom Day.
Presidents have been setting aside the day since it was designated by Congress in 1993.
The day is set aside to commemorate “the Virginia General Assembly’s adoption of the landmark Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom on January 16, 1786,” according to George Washington University. The statute was written by Thomas Jefferson.
Southern Seminary professor Andrew Walker says, “…religious liberty is tied not only to our historical identity, but our theological identity. We have stood as bulwarks for liberty in American history believing that faith plays a vital part of our national identity, and that the ability to live out that faith is integral to the American project. I am encouraged to the see Biden Administration’s Proclamation on Religious Freedom.”
However, he sees some significant red flags.
“While I commend the steps this administration has taken to promote religious freedom, it would do well to move beyond mere platitudes and re-examine the stance it has taken to alienate Americans of faith whose faith commitments contradict progressive orthodoxy. Religious freedom is not true religious freedom unless applied equally and consistently,” he said.
A recent Biden administration foster care rule requires “foster parents or caregivers must be ‘prepared with the appropriate knowledge and skills to provide for the needs of the child related to the child’s self-identified sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression,’” according to the Washington Examiner.
He believes the requirement puts religious liberty at risk for many Christians.
Every day, hundreds of thousands of people die without the hope of Jesus. Your faithful prayers will make a difference. That’s why the IMB created a free 18-month calendar, called “Impacting Lostness Through Prayer”. It provides guidance, reminders and encouragement as you pray for individuals and communities who have yet to hear the gospel. Learn more about this free resource at IMB.org/prayercalendar.
In Luke 5, Jesus boarded Peter’s boat to teach the crowd gathered to hear Him speak. Peter had a front-row seat. As he listened, he heard about living by faith instead of religious observance. Peter began to understand that Jesus wanted him to trust Him. Jesus was calling Peter out of religion and into a relationship founded on faith.
Jesus told Peter to let down his nets into the water. Peter was hesitant because he had worked all night and caught nothing. He could have denied Jesus’ request. And yet, Peter obeyed Jesus, and the nets filled to the brim with fish. Obeying Jesus, Peter witnessed a miracle. He didn’t know what would happen when he let down the nets, but he acted in faith that Jesus was worthy of obedience. As a result, he experienced God’s power.
As Peter recognized Who Jesus truly was, he became especially mindful of his own sinfulness. Jesus invited Peter to leave his fear behind and accept a new calling as Jesus’ disciple. Peter and his friends left everything behind to follow Jesus. Faith is a life of trusting in God. It’s leaving our fear, past and sin behind, and trusting Jesus with our future.
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