The Supreme Court upheld religious liberty and freedom of conscience in its 5-4 decision on Monday, and in doing so, avoided the same mistake the Court made when it upheld the rights of slave owners in the Dred Scott decision and ensured the Civil War. The Dred Scott case not only restored the rights of slave owners to recapture runaway slaves in the Northern States, but made those who did not believe in slavery complicit in their capture and return. In other words, it forced those who hated slavery to comply with slavery by handing slaves back to their masters. This legal decision to deny freedom of conscience only served to strength Abolitionist sentiment and helped precipitate the Civil War.
Noting that then, as today, we have a sharply divided country on the issue of just “who” is entitled to the protection of life and liberty, that narrowly divided Supreme Court is reflective of that divide. The belief that abortion is indeed murder is a conviction that will not disappear with the stroke of the judge’s pen, as has been amply demonstrated by over 40 years of conflict and social disaffection.
However, this decision is a lesson for the Church and what happens when the true people of God come together in the agreement of prayer: things change for the better. We are often discouraged and downcast by the organized media, thinking that the people of God have no effect or power when it comes to the government or the world. We are targeted for such discouragement on purpose by the media, who would just like us to disappear, go away, and stop upholding our convictions about life, faith, justice and morals in the public square. The left leaning media and the blue-blood Republicans consider us a thorn in the side of liberalism on the one hand and unrestrained commerce on the other. In spite of how alone we feel and how powerless we are told we have become, we will cannot change our convictions or our faith.
There was also another time, when the “Church” was less no prescription than a few thousand people, had no political power, was persecuted by the government and by their own religious institutions, and all they could do was pray. Even then, they did not believe in the effectiveness of their prayers; they seemed so small. The story goes that Peter was arrested and put in prison (Acts 12), and the church was gathered together to “earnestly pray” for his release. And the night before he was to be put on trial, an angel opened the prison doors and set Peter free. Peter comes to the house of prayer, but when he gets there, the people refuse to believe that their prayers have been answered:
“And when he knocked at the door of the gateway, a maid named Rhoda came to answer. Recognizing Peter’s voice, in her joy she did not open the gate but ran in and told that Peter was standing at the gate. They said to her, “You are mad.” But she insisted that it was so. They said, “It is his angel!” But Peter continued knocking; and when they opened, they saw him and were amazed.” -Acts 12:13-16
My point is this: when the people of God pray in unity for righteousness, our prayers can be answered even when, individually, we don’t believe in the power or effectiveness of our prayers. This decision shows that the great grass-roots, hidden from the eyes of the media and the powers of this age, have more power and effectiveness than they realize, and such a result should give us hope and courage to continue on in prayer for our nation and the Lord’s salvation. Many are the prayers of the saints that have gone up to God from all across the nation regarding our right to be free to practice our faith and follow the liberty of conscience. Those sometimes fumbling, stumbling, and “hardly expecting an answer” prayers have indeed been heard. God hears and the nation is held in the balance. Those prayers make a difference! Let’s see what else the Lord will do through us!