You are free to worship however or whoever you want inside of your church building.
But when you step outside into the real world, your worship must be approved by us.
That’s essentially what the government is saying in their fight against Hobby Lobby. The president and other supporters of Obamacare do not have a problem if the owners of Hobby Lobby, or any other business, attend a church that opposes abortion. For now. But what they do care about is those beliefs finding their way outside of the sanctuary and into day to day life. Which leads to President Obama’s stance on religious freedom which can be summarized as follows.
You belong to us on Monday through Saturday. God can have you on Sunday. For now.
For true Christians, no matter what the Supreme Court decides in the Hobby Lobby case, we must obey God rather than man (Acts 5:29). Following Jesus was never meant to be confined to one day a week inside the walls of some church building. One of the main points of the New Testament book of James is that faith, if it is genuine, will be lived out. Truly saving faith impacts every aspect of a believer’s life from how he treats his wife to where he chooses to direct his money.
What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? James 2:14 (ESV)
Take a moment to imagine what the world would look like if every Christian in the United States complied with the federal government’s command that believers restrict their faith from their Monday through Saturday lives.
There would be no love. Love wasn’t invented by the government. God created it. And if you had to sum up all of his commandments with one word, that would be it. Love (Mark 12:28-34). Love God. Love others. Should those Christian churches which demonstrate the love of Christ by caring for the homeless cease and desist? After all, giving a sandwich to a homeless man is a supreme act of Christlikeness (Matthew 25:31-46). It is religious activity.
But if we are to submit to the demands of our federal government, that homeless man will just have to wait until Sunday. Let’s hope that he can find his way inside a church building that will care for him. We wouldn’t want such Christlike kindness seeping outside of the church building now would we? Maybe the homeless man could just wait for the government to take care of him. I’m sure he’ll be fine considering the government’s solid track record during its war on poverty.
What about orphans? The government did not invent orphan care. They may have done their share to create orphans but not orphan care. Caring for orphans is a religious activity. You could even say that it is the religious activity.
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. James 1:27 (ESV)
I’m sure that the orphans around the world would love it if the Church cut all the compassion back to one day a week. Not to worry, orphans. Child Protective Services has got your back. Help is on the way. Sometime next month. If the federal grants come through.
No government would ever tell a church to stop helping homeless people and orphans. Not directly at least. That’s because they realize that they need our help. And that’s where we see government’s great contradiction in the religious liberty debate. If a 9th grader wants to start a Bible study on his school campus, he has to do it in the woods behind the building between the hours of 3:15 and 4:15 a.m. We just can’t go mixing government and religion. Until election day. In that case, the government would love to use your church building as a polling location.
Christians should not adopt a That-Will-Show-Them attitude and stop ministering to the homeless and orphans to spite the government.
But at the same time, we must not submit to a government that tells us to render unto Caesar the things that actually belong to Christ. What that means is that when the government tells us to stop living out our faith, we must keep on going as Christ, our Higher Authority, told us to.
It may cost us our business.
It may cost us our reputation.
It may even cost us our lives.
But for those who refuse to restrict their faith into a tiny corner of their lives, the losses endured on this earth pale in comparison to the crown that awaits us.
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing. 2 Timothy 4:7-8 (ESV)