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Question: I like to say that America’s “Freedom of Religion” is often experienced as nothing more than the freedom to be religious. In other words, we can serve empty religion and have no real relationship with God, whereas Christians in nations like China don’t have that luxury. It’s all or nothing for them. Would you say that this is a fair assessment? (How does this affect the way they live?) (brother Paul) Let me begin answering this question by acknowledging there are many genuine believers in America who love Jesus as much as they do in China. They need encouragement and not condemnation. They are the beloved Bride of Christ. I have been privileged to meet many wonderful believers during my travels to the U.S., and have many American friends on the mission field who have been powerfully used by the Lord. I think those Chinese house church leaders I know would struggle to answer this question about freedom of religion simply because they wouldn’t understand what you mean. Freedom does not come from any government or man. It comes from God alone. Therefore the believers in China have freedom of religion too, because Jesus has set them free! They do not sit around worried they might get arrested or imprisoned. They are full of joy and life, and they travel everywhere sharing that life with people who have yet to hear the Gospel. Freedom of religion comes when your heart is free. If the Chinese believers happen to get arrested along the way, they don’t moan that their country doesn’t have “religious freedom.” Rather, they believe God allowed them to be arrested so they can share the Gospel with those in prison. Such an attitude makes them a headache for the devil. What I am saying is that Christians shouldn’t focus on whether the laws of their nation allow this or allow that. If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed! (John 8:38). You are completely free if Christ has set you free. The kingdom of God triumphs over the will of man! If the Church in America has fallen asleep after years of “religious freedom,” perhaps the answer to awakening their spiritual lives will be found outside the political process.

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