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Our “Rights”? Or All Wrong?

Our “Rights”? Or All Wrong?

I’ve about had it with “rights”.

It’s the calling card of our culture, now – one that almost universally gains one entrance into the salon of acceptance and affirmation.

If you have a “right”, then you are right.

A woman’s right to choose. The right to love whomever we choose, in whatever way we choose. The right to happiness as we choose.

A lot about choosing, these rights.

Rights Gone Wrong

No doubt, we are a culture focused on our rights. Yet the more we have moved toward rights, the more I believe we have gone completely wrong. Why? Because the way to Jesus is not about personal choice and rights, but about obedience and responsibility.

Our culture hates that message. And it is that message which causes it to hate Christianity. But it is where the rubber meets the road. Everyone likes Jesus’ message of love. It is His message of obedience and responsibility that…pierce. Kind of like Jesus’ words,

“I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn ‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’— a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 10).

Yes – the defining factor for Christians is whether or not we will give up our rights and our selves, in obedience to Christ and responsibility to others.

Ouch.

The cultural appeal to rights, now, is based on self. It is the rally cry for the ability to choose and live life according to our own plans and desires, regardless of how it affects others. It is rooted in the belief that man is the measure of all things, and that “right” and “wrong” are subjective concepts that are to be interpreted according to our own determinations.

We now, as a culture, value the right to live however we individually choose over the responsibility of living according to a transcendent standard that was put into place by the One who created us. Unlike our Founding Fathers (when arguing for the right of religious freedom or the right to life and liberty) or those of the Civil Rights movement, we no longer argue for rights established by God, for the betterment of mankind.

We now argue for rights established by ourselves for our own convenience and pleasure.

Yet…

Christ says, “Those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.” (Luke 14:33).

And He says, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well.  If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.” (Matthew 5:38-42).

I cannot help but be overwhelmed by the stark contrast between the cultural mantra of rights and God’s Word.

“Rights” According to Scripture

“It is a woman’s body – and a woman’s choice.”

  • “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
  • “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart” Jeremiah 1:5

“Everyone has the right to have sex with whomever they choose”. 

  • 1 Corinthians 6:12, 15-18 “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but I will not be mastered by anything.  Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh.” But whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit. Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body.”
  • “It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable”. 1 Thessalonians 4:2-4
  • “You shall not commit adultery.” Exodus 20:14
  • “‘Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable.” Leviticus 18:22, 20:13
  • Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.” Romans 12:1

 “I have the right to be happy”.

  • “Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus.” 2 Timothy 2:3
  •  “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:12-13
  • ”Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom.  Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” James 4:8-10
  •  “There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. 36 Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— the world was not worthy of them….These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, 40 since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.” Hebrews 11:35-40

“I have the right to do what I want with my life”.

  • “Observe the commands of the Lord your God, walking in obedience to him and revering him.” Deuteronomy 8:6
  • “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves”. Philippians 2:3
  • “So, my brothers and sisters, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God.” Romans 7:4
  • “And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humblywith your God.” Micah 6:8
  • “As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.” Ephesians 4:1

“Gender doesn’t matter in marriage – all that matters is love between two people”.

  • “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.” Genesis 1:27
  • “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate. For there are eunuchs who were born that way, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others—and there are those who choose to live like eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 19:12
  •  “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”This is a profound mystery—I am talking about Christ and the church.” Ephesians 5:31-32.

“People who have worked hard deserve to get what they have worked for.”

  • “Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’ “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’  “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.” Luke 12:15-21
  • “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.  But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-20
  • “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” Luke 18:22

Living for Christ is not about rights. It is about getting what we do not, in any way, deserve. And, because of that gift, choosing to give up ourselves in obedience to him and responsibility to other people.

Our world has it so wrong. People spend every minute trumpeting their rights, only to end up, at the end of it all, with nothing but themselves. In their efforts to secure happiness and fulfillment by getting what they think they deserve, they completely miss out on the grace and mercy and peace from the Lord that they don’t deserve. Joy and freedom is never found in the elevation of self, but in the giving up of self out of obedience to the Lord.

So every time I hear people talk about their “rights”, I feel a combination of anger and sadness. Because it is, so often, an indicator of the spiritual need in our world; an incessant, grinding pull downward into selfishness and emptiness. This world says we will get happiness if we secure the rights we deserve. Christ says we will get neverending joy and fulfillment if we give it all up in order to secure that which we do not deserve.

“What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?” (Mark 8:36)

I’m going with Christ.

So I’m giving up rights for responsibility and obedience. And getting, instead of self – Him. And everything else I’ve ever wanted along with Him. Hopefully, at the end of it all, it won’t be about having rights, but about how He has made me right.

One Response to “Our “Rights”? Or All Wrong?”

  1. Patrick says:

    I really liked the point about the perspectibe of rights, Gods rights vs mans rights. The world is fighting for these extra silly man’s rights made up for betterment of man vs yielding to God in responsibility and obedience to God.

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