My favorite amendment to the U.S. Constitution is the First Amendment.
The First Amendment is a warm blanket of free thought that has served as the example of freedom we get to enjoy.
I get to think, say and write what I want, associate with whom I want and pretty much do what I want as long as it doesn’t infringe on the rights of others. I can’t help but marvel at how big of a deal that this truly is.
Yet the First Amendment sometimes hangs out with people I wish that it wouldn’t. In fact, the First Amendment just isn’t my friend. It is the friend of pretty much everyone, which drives me crazy.
There are people out there who shouldn’t be speaking. They say silly things about subjects they don’t understand and make fools of themselves, to later be mocked on Buzzfeed.
There are people that say inflammatory things that make my blood boil to the point where my eyes cross with unbearable rage at their ignorance.
And therein lies the magic of the First Amendment. It does not protect popular speech because popular speech doesn’t need to be protected.
The First Amendment protects the unpopular because if freedom is truly free, it has to be free for all.
On Sunday evening, Sept. 21, in Oklahoma City, a city that has been described as the “buckle of the Bible belt,” roughly 40 people attended the Satanic “Black Mass” in the basement of the Oklahoma City Civic Center.
Even though they had to alter the program because of public ordinances and regulations against indecency, they exercised their religious freedom.
Right in the middle of all of this was the First Amendment protecting the group’s right to freely and peaceably assemble.
The event enrages me. I find it inflammatory and provocative for the sake of provocation.
I find myself heartbroken that those who were created would fully envelope themselves in the lies of the enemy out of rebellion and spite of the creator.
As a follower of Christ who believes that metaphysics is something that has more prevalence than we would care to admit, trifling with something of this magnitude is, at best, unwise.
Yet, God is teaching us that despite our attempts to relegate, dismiss or portray as a cartoonish figure, there is a savvy and powerful enemy whose sole mission is to steal, kill and destroy creation simply because it is loved by the creator (see John 10:10; 1 Peter 5:8).
Dismissing a powerful enemy as either non-existent, not formidable or not a threat is a mistake.
The second lesson is that we still have the same right to freely assemble and worship.
We have the greatest privilege to come together and worship without reservation or fear of reprisal.
Our pastors aren’t being carted off en masse because of their faith. Our doors are not being kicked open by machine gun wielding extremists with murderous intent.
We enjoy a freedom that continues to be a modern-day miracle, and all you have to do is take a sneak peak at what is happening outside of the U.S. to realize it to be true.
While we have this freedom, what are we doing with it? Our freedom to worship and proclaim the goodness of Christ is being taken for granted.
My fear is that believers are using the miracle of the First Amendment to talk about the laundry list of things we are against rather than talking about the Christ we are for. We are known not by our outrageous love but by our outrage.
We hold a person who does not know Christ to the same sanctification as someone who is a disciple, which is an unrealistic expectation.
As such, believers are not known by the fruits of the spirit but by how we are not only frontline warriors of a culture war, but also people who will even throw our very own under the bus if we perceive them to be a threat to the carefully constructed theological construct that we have created for ourselves.
Any slight deviation from it is grounds for both dismissal and excommunication, and that is what we do to our brothers and sisters in Christ. We get so wrapped up in the minutiae that we fiddle while Rome burns.
This has to end. Our penchant for bickering and backbiting is allowing the enemy to gain a foothold. If changing the world is the goal, then petty differences have to be swept away.
If changing the world is the goal, then we can’t ever forget that the only thing that has changed the world is small, thoughtful and committed groups of people.
Phillip Larsen is a member of West Metro Community Church in Yukon, Oklahoma. He is the author of several books, including “Suit Up!” He blogs at LarsenPhillip.wordpress.com. You can connect with him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter @plarsen7.