D. L. Moody Center president: ‘We are not here to be comfortable. We are here to be faithful’
October 24, 2022
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. —A majority of Americans believe there is “a lot of discrimination” against Christians in this country, and with the General Election looming this November, many are concerned about further assaults against the Christian worldview. But how does the Bible command Christians to approach any attacks against the Christian faith?
A theologian, scholar, writer, and advocate for speaking biblical truth into today’s culture, D. L. Moody Center (moodycenter.org) President James Spencer argues that despite the natural response to defend Christianity from any cultural or political attacks, Christians must remember that the only “freedom” Christians are guaranteed as believers is the freedom to follow Christ.
“As we begin to confuse what is central to who we are as Christians with ideas that are more coincidental, we may find ourselves following someone or something other than Jesus,” Spencer stated. “In the U.S., these challenges are evident in Christian discussions of ‘freedom.’ Christians have the freedom to obey. We will never lose it. When we speak of ‘losing our freedom,’ we often mean something like losing the ability to practice our faith without negative consequences. While this latter loss is lamentable, our freedom to obey is not and never has been dependent on the political realm but is secured in Christ.
“It is certainly appropriate for Christians to press political leaders to carry out the responsibilities of their God-ordained office, but to assume that our nation had, has or ever will have a vested interest in making disciples of Jesus is little more than a pleasant fiction.”
Spencer explains how the Bible addresses the role of politics within a larger religious scope. “We are to respect our political leaders (Romans 13:1-7, 1 Peter 2:17), yet that respect does not make us subject to every whim of government. Earthly rulers stand under God’s authority. When they subvert God by seeking to force or otherwise coerce Christians to be loyal to the state rather than to God, Christians must resist,” Spencer said.
The Bible is very clear about how Christians should respond to any type of oppression, according to Spencer. “When we confuse freedom to obey with freedom from consequences, we may be tempted to pick up the weapons of the world, which have little utility in our struggle against ‘the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places’ (Ephesians 6:12). As Christians, becoming so obsessed with protecting our rights that we neglect self-sacrifice displaces and distorts God. When we no longer resist the world by obeying God’s instruction, we may find ourselves reinforcing the world’s wisdom by placing our hope in its institutions and tactics.
“Democracy is not the secret path to godliness, nor is the Judeo-Christian ethic the key to a wholesome utopia. At best, these are restraining systems keeping evil and injustice at bay. We should respect them, but we should not give them more authority than God has ascribed to them. When we do so, it becomes difficult to be precise with our theological language because freedom from consequences begins to feel like something we deserve — or, perhaps worse, something we can’t live without.”
Spencer concluded, “Maintaining the distinction between freedom to obey and freedom from consequences will help Christians maintain their focus on Christ and the mission of the church. We are not here to be comfortable. We are here to be faithful.”
For more from Spencer about freedom in America and how Christians should respond, see his latest OPED.
The D. L. Moody Center is pleased to announce the launch of its new eight-day Bible plan, Useful to God, on the YouVersion app. Drawing on Spencer’s book titled “Useful to God: Eight Lessons from the Life of D. L. Moody,” this Bible plan examines eight characteristics evident in the Scriptures and in the life of D. L. Moody (e.g., surrendered, prayerful, humbled, undistracted, and studious). Thousands have already completed the plan, with hundreds more subscribing daily.
The D.L. Moody Center is an independent non-profit organization located in Northfield, Massachusetts. Dedicated to preserving and advancing the legacy of Dwight Moody, the D. L. Moody Center is a catalyst for spiritual formation in New England and beyond through evangelism and discipleship.
The D. L. Moody Center is not a school. Nevertheless, there is much to learn by studying D. L. Moody and what God accomplished through his life which began in New England, at the Northfield, Massachusetts campus, the heart of Moody’s ministry as well as his childhood home.