Feb 17

Religious Liberty Rooted in Jesus posted by John Sorensen on Feb 17, 2013

After three months in a crude Kazakhstan prison, Pastor Makset Djabbarbergenov walked free last December and is now in another country with his family.

His “crime”? Sharing Jesus with others.

Quick question: Why did Makset, an EE worker who came to Christ in 2000, have to spend three months in jail for telling others about Jesus while Americans enjoy an up to now iron-clad guarantee of religious liberty?

The short answer, of course, is the First Amendment. But where did America’s founders get the idea that government has no business telling citizens what to believe or how we should practice our religion?

From Jesus.


Jesus told us to “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Matthew 22:21 NKJV). In other words, there are two realms—Caesar’s and God’s. Caesar has a role, but it isn’t to take God’s place.

These words of Jesus limit the state to “the things that are Caesar’s,” which is why the apostles refused to obey an order to stop preaching Jesus. They told authorities in Jerusalem instead that “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).

Thomas Jefferson used Christ’s example to argue for religious liberty in the 1786 Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, an amazing document which ensured religious freedom for all. I doubt that Thomas Jefferson would have offered biblical answers to the two EE diagnostic questions, but his thinking in other ways conforms to Scripture.

“Almighty God hath created the mind free,” Jefferson declared in the Act, adding that any attempt to burden that freedom by law is “a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, who being Lord, both of body and mind yet chose not to propagate it by coercions on either, as was in his Almighty power to do.”

In other words, Jesus, who has all authority, doesn’t compel us to believe and neither should the state. This is the foundation of religious liberty. This freedom is God’s gift to man—and one which we believers should take every opportunity to exercise wherever and whenever we can!

Religious liberty is a Christian idea—one that stems directly from the words and life of our Savior. That’s something to remember as we celebrate Presidents’ Day and give thanks for the blessings He has given the United States of America.

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