Recently, a friend said in an email, “I believe in the First Amendment and the First Commandment.” Those words have resonated in my heart ever since.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
You shall have no other gods before Me.
I was raised by a member of the “Greatest Generation.” My mom lived through the Great Depression and World War II. I was raised with a love of country and a belief in our constitution and the freedoms it protected. I was raised to honor God, too. But in my lifetime—and especially in the past twenty years—I have seen the First Amendment erode until it is almost non-existent and I have seen the First Commandment forgotten by the culture at large.
My heart breaks at times, but then I remember the First Century church in places like Rome and Corinth and Ephesus. Those cultures were in turmoil, too. The world is the world, but God is God. And so I pray:
Holy, holy, holy God. I lift up our nation before You. You have called Your church to love. You have also called Your church to speak truth, no matter what the culture around us says. You have called Your church to be holy as You are holy.
By the power of Your Spirit, guide us in the righteous path. You have called upon us to deny ourselves, to cast off the sin that so easily entangles us, to take up our crosses, and to follow You.
You have called us to purity, but our culture says things are okay that You say are not. Too often the church mirrors the world around us. Forgive us and cleanse us. Help us to be loving examples of living for God and not to please ourselves.
We are a nation and a world in chaos, Father. Have mercy. Lord, have mercy.
And finally I remember what Jesus promised:
These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”