We hear a lot of talk—a lot of concern—about our rights. As Americans, we are thankful for the rights that have been spelled out for us in the Bill of Rights. At the same time, we are constantly looking over our shoulder because of a perceived threat that such-and-such group is taking away our rights.
- If you lean to the left, some right-wing lobby (or the government) is aggressively working to take away your right to choose … or live where you want … or …
- If you lean to the right, some left-wing lobby (or the government) is aggressively working to take your right to own a gun … or wave a flag … or …
I’ll admit it. I like my rights. But I don’t want to address our rights as American citizens. I want to address our rights as followers of Christ.
If you are a Christian, you have no rights.
No group took your rights away from you. You gave them away.
Jesus said, “If anyone wants to follow after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me” (Luke 9:23). Jesus told us to count the cost of following Him (Luke 14:25-34). When we come to Christ, we don’t just come to Him as Savior; we come to Him as Lord. Lord. He calls the shots. He owns us. We are no longer our own, but we were bought by Christ (1 Cor. 6:19-20).
We don’t make ourselves doormats for anyone and everyone to walk on, but we are to be considerate of the preferences and desires for the sake of others.
“In humility consider others as more important than yourselves. Everyone should look not to his own interests, but rather to the interests of others” (Phil 2:3-4).
Have you ever heard the name Eleanor of Aquitaine? She was the queen of France in the 12th century, and she is considered one of the most powerful women. Ever. Even more than Oprah. When her husband, King Louis VII, returned from fighting the crusades, he walked into the castle clean shaven. My wife would’ve liked that (I look seriously pathetic with a beard), but not Eleanor. She thought her clean-shaven husband looked hideous, and she insisted he grow back his beard.
Being the sort of husband he was, Louis refused. Eleanor responded by divorcing him. Things were obviously not going well for the couple—but it only got worse when Eleanor turned around and married the king of England. The squabble in their now-defunct marriage led to a squabble between two countries that lasted almost 120 years—the Hundred Years’ War. The pettiness over a beard led to political alliances that led to war, which led to the deaths of 3.5 million people.
If only Louis VII had set aside his preference—and set aside his Bic razor.
We can shake our self-righteous heads at the pettiness and unnecessary tragedy of this event, but we do the same thing in the church.
- We’re scarred from the worship wars, fighting over our preferences for an organ or guitar.
- We’re scarred from fighting over when to collect the offering or make the announcements.
- We scarred from fighting over sharing classrooms with other groups in the church.
- We’re scarred from fighting over what color of toilet paper to put in the church restrooms.
To the outsider, these things appear petty, but we in the church have made them a big deal. A me-centered attitude leads to fighting and divisiveness—and that is not petty.
The greatest detriment to the church’s witness in the world is how we treat each other. So let me challenge you, follower of Christ, to do your part. Quit insisting on having things your way. After all, you have no rights. You gave all your rights to Jesus, who calls us to follow Him in grace and love.
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This post supports the study “Confidence in the Midst of Conflict” in Bible Studies for Life and YOU.
Join Lynn Pryor and Chris Johnson as they discuss this topic.
Yes, yes and yes! Great blog!
I’m sorry, but this is sad – a terrible misapplication of a wonderful scripture about heart. Yes, it’s about putting others first, and we lay our rights down before God. These days it seems every Christian is taking this message the wrong way. Without rights, there is no righteousness. We are to seek justice and defend our brothers in need. If we believe they have no rights, then there is no longer any justice to seek, since no wrong has been done. Now we have to throw out just about EVERY action of God in the Bible – since it’s ALL for justice – bringing things into right standing. WE are to do as He does. We are to act for justice by bringing rightness.
Proper application is selflessness, putting God first, and giving him control of things. There is no REMOVAL of rights. They (that do exist) are simply laid before his feet, and he teaches us proper application, which always involves putting others first.
Please change the title, and reword some of the content. God’s heart is being missed these days. Whether you intend it or not, messages like this are being used to cause a misunderstanding of our need to act in defense of other Christians. Inaction for the defense of Christians will lead to people being placed with the goats ;( “In as much as you did it for the least of these my brethren….”
I’m sorry you missed the point of this blog. Justice is a strong biblical concept, and it is something all believers should work for. The problem being addressed is the self-centered focus too many of us take when we think about ourselves first and foremost. In fact, demanding my “rights” can be a strong deterrent in loving others and working for their justice. When I’m focused on myself, I can be blind to the needs of others.
So we as Christians do not have a right to stand up to tyrants that are wanting us to conform to their rules when we don’t believe it is of or from God? We cannot band together and refuse to allow them to treat us as second class citizens? If they say jump off the cliff to your death, we have to do it? We can’t stand in defence of the innocent because what is happening to them is against everything we believe in? We are to let others treat us and other Christians or even non Christians however they want too and we are not defend those people? Is that what it means?
I’m sorry the emphasis in this blog was not clear. Christians need to stand up against injustice and stand for the truth, but that was not my focus. I noted in the opening paragraphs, “I don’t want to address our rights as American citizens. I want to address our rights as followers of Christ.” The rights I’m referring to are the “rights” we give ourselves to demand our own way or to be offended when someone does something we don’t like. As followers of Christ, we give up those rights when we give our lives to Jesus Christ as Lord. And that includes giving up my “right” to hide in my house when Christ is calling me to stand up for others in the face of injustice.
Mr. Pryor; I recommend the book “Natural Rights On The Threshold of The Scottish Enlightenment” by Gershom Carmichal. This book goes into this subject in great detail from a Reformed Christian point of view. To think Law is not Love is the most fundamental of mistakes.