Rights [jay]

If you didn’t read my last post “Kingdom Chicken”, the first part of this post won’t make much sense.  So read that; it’s awesome.

In “Kingdom Chicken”, I made this statement:

“Don’t get me wrong, I dig Chick-Fil-A.  Their chicken is deliciously marinated in pickle juice and I’d take Chick-Fil-A sauce through an IV.  But when in the world did unhealthy eating become the way to make a cultural or faith-based statement?  Rights are not to be consumed, they are to be enjoyed.  Therefore, we should enjoy our rights as American Christians but not respond like spoiled consumers when they are tread upon (in our opinion).

Since when did Christians have governmental rights?  The entire Christian heritage is built on the loss and violation of governmental and even human rights.  And Christ’s Beautiful Bride has always flourished in that governmental and social climate.

…It doesn’t matter if America says you have rights or not.  God calls us to a higher way, a fuller dimension; His government is what matters most.  And His government says to love and bless those who hate and persecute you.  Standing obstinately and annoyingly vocal on our rights as American Christians to speak and demanding to be heard and willing our respectability into existence and glaringly eating our chicken is not the way of Jesus.”

As a result of these expressed sentiments, my friend, Josh, and I had a small comment conversation on a not-very-well-known social networking site called Facebook (but I swear, this site is on its way up).  It went like this:

Josh:  I agree that it doesn’t matter if “America” says we have rights or not. Most people I know don’t think that their rights come from America. I know the founders didn’t.

Jay:  Yeah, exactly…that’s the problem. There is no such thing as “certain inalienable rights” that have been “endowed by our Creator”. God declares no rights for anyone. Everything we have is grace. Grace, grace, grace and no one has any right to anything but God. And He laid down His rights for our sake.

Josh:  …yeah heard you express that view before. Have to think on it a bit… …seems that humans in an imperfect world depend upon ‘rights’ for the maximization of peace, order, safety. Should we not pursue these things? For our children, friends, fellow man? Where is justice if no man has a right to just treatment? How would you have society function? Where does the idea of justice come from? Peace?

I think Josh’s points are insightful and his questions are excellent and thought-provoking.  So much so, that it’s what I’d like to consider here in this particular post.

In my opinion, the great role of the American Church in this season is to repent from our current Church sub-cultural definitions and conceptions of who God is and who we are (individually and collectively) and return to His definitions and concepts of who He is and who we are (individually and collectively).  Upon understanding his definitions and concepts of who He is and who we are, we should actively confess those things, openly and boldly speaking them in our Church and culture.  As we offer these confessions of His definitions and ways, He will open for us fuller connection to His heart that will reveal to us more of who He is and who we are (individually and collectively), leading to deeper dimensions of Church and cultural transformation.

Many Christians live their lives trying to understand and love God and His ways so that they can apply what they learn about Him to their real lives.  And that’s the deception.

God and His ways are reality.  We live in and among the deceptions and traps of the world.  God and His government are not meant to be applied to our lives.  They are meant to be our lives.  He is our reality; the only reality.  His government is the real government; the only true government.  It rests upon the shoulders of Jesus (Isaiah 9.6).

So think about this in reference to Josh’s first few questions, which I’ll form into one question: It seems that humans in an imperfect world depend up on “rights” for the maximization of peace, order and safety.  Should we not pursue these things for our children, friends and fellow man?

We should most definitely pursue peace, order and safety for our children, friends and fellow man; but it must be according to God’s definitions, His ways and interpretations, not ours.

God’s definition of peace is not the absence of interpersonal conflict or war.  Peace is God’s presence.  Therefore, when conflict finds us or is created against us unfairly, we are at peace, especially toward those who are attacking us (Matt 5.11,12).

Order is not the rule of law in human governmental situations.  Order is administrating our lives according to the Law of the Spirit.  Therefore, in all things spiritual and physical, we look to God’s way of ordering ourselves, even when it seems a higher, more sensational way of doing things seems appropriate (1 Corinthians 14).

Safety is not protection from oppression or physical, emotional, or spiritual harm.  Safety is the refuge and rock that is the character of God.  Therefore, when we are oppressed and treated unfairly, we retreat to God Himself and endure (Psalm 12).

But then comes the crux of the matter: justice.  Can there be justice without human or governmental rights?  Josh poses three excellent questions: Where is justice if no man has a right to just treatment? How would you have society function? Where does the idea of justice come from?

Justice is the chief of God’s virtues.  We know that God is love and that God is just, but I’d say that the chief way that God acts lovingly toward humanity is by being just.  If you were to write on a three by five card each individual usage of one of God’s attributes and then stack them thematically, the justice stack would be way taller than any other, even love, holiness or righteousness.

The idea of justice comes straight from the bowels of God.  God is a God who wants things right, who releases prisoners from oppression, who executes judgement on the enemies of His people, who declares that vengeance is His.  And all of those things are the point.  God is just.  And God alone acts justly in perfection.

In Micah 6.8, God explains His concept of justice, building one thought upon another, “He has shown you, O man, what is good and what the Lord requires of you: to act justly, to love mercy and walk humbly with your God.”  Mercy and humility are the keys to living justly.

And thus we see God’s definition of these things in the life — and even more clearly, the death — of Jesus.  Jesus had rights.  As the Creator of the world and God of all humanity, He had the right to do whatever He wanted in line with His character.  And He laid down those rights.

In the midst of it all, Pilate declared his right: “Don’t you know what I could do with you?”

And Jesus replied, “You would have no power if it were not given to you from on high.”

The Son of God had rights, and He laid them down in mercy and humility.  Humans have no rights.  We sacrificed all rights to everything for all time when we sinned with Adam in the garden.  That is what it means for the wages of sin to be death.

All that we have are gifts of grace, and if God wants to take those away, or arrange/allow for those to be taken, our response is to be that of Jesus.  Mercy and humility.

How would I have society function?  I would see the upside-down government of the Kingdom of God rule the entire world with Jesus as King.  I refuse to settle for anything less.

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One thought on “Rights [jay]

  1. Guess I’m flattered to be the poor sap your post makes an example of ;). Couple thoughts…
    1. I think the creation of man in God’s own image imparted a divine dignity which should not be violated. This is echoed in the commandment forbidding murder, and it seems to me to imply a right to life.
    2. There are numerous scriptures addressing human interactions both in the negative, thou shalt not steal, and the positive, love your neighbor as yourself, which also imply rights. Its upon these very precepts that modern conceptions of rights are based. And they serve the same function now as they did then – a framework for society.
    3. I think the entire history of man in the bible illustrates his inherent God-given liberty. Most of the time he abuses it….
    4. Isaiah 1:17 says, ‘learn to do well; seek justice, defend the oppressed, take up the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.’ I.e. oppression is not justice. The weak being taken advantage of is not justice….and man is required to respect this.

    I don’t actually disagree with the ingredients of your argument….but the meal you cook doesn’t make sense to me. I am certainly not arguing that the Christian has rights before God to anything…He makes that clear to job.
    But in a practical sense – in society – these things are good. In fact they are the best we can do short of utopia…

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