As Americans we are proud of our type of government—democracy. Our patriotism makes us salute the flag, sing the national anthem with gusto, and stand ever ready to recite our rights when we feel they are being violated.
Christians should be careful about those “rights.” Christians are servants of the Lord, of each other, and of everyone else too. …in lowliness of mind each counting the other as better than himself, Phil 2:3. As an American your instant reaction is, “All men are created equal—no one is better than I am.” That is a difficult thing to overcome because it is a whole lot more satisfying in this world, in this life.
The Corinthians had a problem with this too. When disputes arose among them, they took each other to law. Paul said, in effect, “Shame on you!” in I Cor 6:1-6. Then he added, Why not rather take wrong? Why not rather be defrauded? (v 7). But that’s not fair! I have my rights!
No, you don’t. Not if you are a Christian. Christians ought to love the cause of Christ more than their own personal interests. They should be more horrified at the idea of injuring His mission than in losing dollars or taking a personal insult. Any time the way we act hurts the body of Christ or its mission we are wrong, whether it goes against our “rights” as Americans or not.
My opinion doesn’t matter if it hurts my brother. My preferences do not matter if they keep the church from being able to better accomplish its goal to save the lost. My “right” to function in the body of Christ doesn’t matter if someone else can better edify the group. Any time I push my rights, I have lost the essence of Christianity—humility and service to one another and to Christ.
Any time things don’t go our way, it is almost automatic for us to think, “But I have my rights!” That is ingrained in us from the time we hit grade school and memorize the Bill of Rights. Christians do not have a Bill of Rights. Be very glad of that. The only thing we have a right to is Hell. Instead, God became man and made it possible for us to have something we could never possibly have a right to—Heaven. It’s time to stop thinking about “rights” and start praising Him for “grace” instead.
Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued trusting himself to him who judges justly, 1 Pet 2:16,20,21,23.