No word yet from the Supreme Court about their decision regarding Sebelius vs. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. That’s right; only a few days remain until we discover how religious liberty will be impacted in the United States. Many predict, to the rejoicing of many Evangelical Christians, a Hobby Lobby victory, but the decision from SCOTUS has yet to officially emerge. This case will undoubtedly set a precedent for future decisions, but the nature of the surrounding debate has me concerned.
There is a big difference between freedom of religion and freedom of worship. Freedom of religion allows a person to freely adhere to religious beliefs of their choosing and express them in their lives and actions. Freedom of worship allows a person to express religious devotion in religious settings (e.g. a Christian worshipping in a church). This distinction involves more than semantic nuances; freedom of worship disguised as freedom of religion allows for authoritative dictation of moral, immoral, or amoral belief systems that override any singular system of religious beliefs. Essentially, the governing body can say, “You can believe whatever you want, but keep it to yourself.” As soon as religious beliefs infringe on the rights of others, those beliefs need to stop.
While I would mourn such a decree from the powers that be, I already mourn a self-inflicted restriction by Christians in the United States. Many Christians, myself included, have the tendency to limit our “religious activity” to our places of worship. We curb our worship to a brief gathering once or twice a week. We restrict our generosity to the offering plate. We limit our displays of Christian love to shaking hands and uttering trite expressions of well-being. Forgive me for generalizing, but isn’t it so easy to fall into such complacent behavior?
Paul urged the Christians in Colosse, “Whatever you do, whether in word or in deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Colossians 3:17). When walking with Christ, we are called to worship God with everything we do. Worship can not be limited to a single, weekly action. Worship is a lifestyle. Jesus is a lifestyle.
You’re right — I’m probably biased. I am a moderately conservative Christian millennial — of course I want to be able to worship freely. And here I could tie in a Thomas Jefferson religious freedom quote and finish up this blog post with a compelling reason why you should be in favor of a Supreme Court decision in favor of Hobby Lobby. But I think God’s call for us to wake up from our sleep in order for Christ to shine on us (see Ephesians 5:14) is far more important than this case. We need to stop barricading Christ within the walls of our churches and shine the light of His love with every word, thought, and action. Of course I’m in favor of religious freedom for all people, but the mandate of the SCOTUS does not override the call or outweigh the cost of discipleship. With every day that passes, every decision the court makes, and every law the President signs, our faith becomes more offensive. Many American Christians have never experienced true persecution for faith; our opposition does not compare to the violent opposition to Christianity of years past and currently in places around the world. Perhaps we will now be able to resonate with Jesus’ statement in John 16:33: “In this world you will have trouble, but take heart; I have overcome the world.”
Complacency cannot stand in the face of opposition. Let us make our decision to wake up before the battle begins or our decision will be made for us.
Soli Deo Gloria