In a discussion about the laws of their day in Matthew 22, Jesus told a lawyer that “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” is “the great and first commandment.”
Especially in an election year, many people are discussing the meaning of certain rights provided and/or protected by our laws. Among them is the freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and freedom of assembly.
It is a gift to live in a nation where such freedoms exist. But what if we didn’t? What if the First Amendment did not exist? Would it change the way we felt about Jesus or our devotion to him?
And since the First Amendment does exist in the United States, what do we value more – the First Amendment or the First Commandment? You see, there are some who loudly defend and debate the rights found in the First Amendment. They may even declare that they’re willing to die to preserve and protect these rights. Is the same (or greater) devotion given to the First Commandment?
Christians can vigorously defend the First Amendment and then turn around and do nothing with it. It is one thing to love the freedom to worship as one chooses. It’s quite another to love the Lord your God with everything you have.
There are Christians living all over the world who do not enjoy the legal protection to believe and assemble for worship as they choose. Yet they still do. Some – like those who were killed last weekend in Pakistan – believe and worship in spite of ever-present dangers . . . and they continue to do so after such horrific events. They don’t debate the existence of a First Amendment. They just live out the First Commandment.
A Christian in the United States can debate the First Amendment throughout the week, and when his/her church gathers on Sunday, choose not to worship the Lord. That’s well within our rights under the First Amendment too. But it falls far short of fulfilling the First Commandment.
What matters more to you – having the freedom to believe and assemble or actually being one who loves the Lord and assembles with his people? Political freedoms are nice, but they can spoil us. The spiritual freedom found in Christ is the only thing that truly frees us from our sin and self-indulgence.
What matters more to you – the First Amendment or the First Commandment? Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. If you do, you will be blessed and you will be a blessing to everyone around you.