Yesterday, I had the opportunity to be part of an amazing moment of bipartisanship in our ever partisan country. Legislators from both major political parties gathered to form the Kentucky Legislative Prayer Caucus, a nonpartisan group aimed at promoting religious freedom in our country and commonwealth.
An estimated 300 people, including members of the Kentucky Legislature, were in attendance filling several levels of the historic Capitol’s Rotunda. The attendance was higher than expected, according to event organizers.
It remains to be seen whether the new caucus will remain true to its purpose of protecting religious freedom in Kentucky. Yesterday’s event was a powerful beginning to the caucus that saw legislators sign a pledge to protect religious liberties. That pledge can be found at the Congressional Prayer Caucus Foundation’s Website. Legislators should be applauded for joining together and affirming the country’s values and religious traditions.
While I am in support of this organization, and others like it, I do have a bit of caution. We must all make sure we are not merely fighting symbolic battles, but are wrestling with what it meaning to live out our faith and to be led by God’s grace and will for our lives.
It is easy for all of us, myself included, to be caught up in the symbolic battles of faith. Those battles include displaying the Ten Commandments in our courthouses, the words “Under God” being in our Pledge of Allegiance, or our nation’s motto remaining “In God We Trust.” Each of these have led to passionate discussions among the faith communities, and led some to believe that our Christian faith and heritage is under attack. I do believe our faith is under attack in our country, but I question if merely fighting symbolic battles are the way to address the larger issue.
In other words, we must be more concerned about the meaning behind the symbol than the symbol itself. What good is it if a legislator desires to protect religious freedom, but is unwilling to treat someone on the opposing side with respect and decency, which are core values of the Christian faith? What good is it if we proclaim with our words to submit to God’s leading and authority in our lives, but are more concerned about our own needs and own agendas?
Our symbols are important, but what is more important is how we live out the meaning of our faith. That is the most important battle that we face. We must make sure that we are living lives in complete obedience to God in love and adoration for all that God has done for us. We must give our entire lives over to God, because that is what God demands of us. We are called to be holy, because God, our God, is holy.
If we live out our faith in love, and exhibit our faith and dependency on God in our lives, then maintaining our symbols will be a secondary issue. As we are living out our lives in faith and obedience to God, we are participating in the greater and most important struggle of faith – making disciples in the name of Jesus Christ who are transformed by the Holy Spirit to live lives for Christ. When that happens, the battles over symbols becomes unimportant because people are living out their faith in adoration for all God has done for them.
Yesterday, I met legislators who were concerned about this very issue. It was reaffirming to hear legislators who understand the importance of living out their faith and bringing others to the cross. My hope is we that we all believe that for ourselves.
The struggle to make disciples in the name of Jesus Christ is the ultimate struggle we must all be engaged in. It requires us to reverse the question of symbols from “Why are the symbols being removed,” to “how can we live out the meaning of the symbol.” It is a harder challenge, yes, but so is the path of following Jesus Christ.