“You have the right to remain silent …”
Although I have never been arrested (getting hauled to the police station when I was fifteen for driving without a license doesn’t count), I know my rights. I’ve watched enough crime shows to quote them:
- You have the right to remain silent.
- Anything you say may be used against you in a court of law.
- You have the right to consult an attorney before speaking to the police and to have an attorney present during questioning .
- If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you.
C’mon, is there anyone who cannot quote these? I grew up hearing them on TV, and they seem so obvious, but there was a time …
In 1963, Ernesto Miranda was a 22-year-old reform school graduate. The Phoenix police picked him up for questioning in the abduction and rape of a young woman. The police asked him questions and he confessed. He went to trial and was convicted.
When Miranda appealed his conviction, he found out that he never had to say a word to the police. He didn’t know he could ask for a lawyer; he just did what the police said. He didn’t know his rights. This went all the way to the Supreme Court, who ruled 51 years ago this week (June 13, 1966) that anyone and everyone arrested must be informed of their rights—their Miranda rights.
Do you know your rights as a follower of Christ? I ‘m not talking about legal matters; I’m referring to spiritual matters.
In a recent post, I said that Christians have no rights, so it sounds like I’m talking out of both sides of my mouth. But we don’t have any rights when it comes to choosing ourselves over others. We gave up all our self-focused rights when we surrendered ourselves to the lordship of Christ.
But Christ has given us certain rights—certain things we can expect—in our relationship to Him.
- You do not have the right to remain silent. “Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels” (Luke 9:26).
- Anything you say can and will be used to point people to Christ—or away from Him. “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be” (Jas. 3:9-10).
- You have an attorney—a constant advocate—in Jesus Christ. “We have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One” (1 John 2:1).
- The Counselor—God’s Holy Spirit—is always present with you to guide you and help you. “The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you” (John 14:26).
We have these rights, not as entitlements, but as a gift of God’s grace. If we hear our Miranda rights, it is because we are accused. We hear our rights in Christ because we are declared forgiven.
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