Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Christian and His Liberty

What is it to be an American? Living the dream? Freedom of speech and religion? The ability to choose leaders? Our rights are so often something we take for granted. I know I do. Even as Christians we are caught up in the battle for our "American rights." We defend the right to pray in school, invoking the 1st Amendment. We fight to be able to preach in public squares or share the gospel without hindrance. These are good things, but the fight for what is right must not devolve into the fight for our "rights;" we must not lose sight of the fact that in God's eyes we have no rights. This brings me to today's quote:

"The Ten Commandments is the Christian's Bill of Rights. They protect everyone but yourself."

Rick Holland was at Grace Community Church (Sun Valley, CA) at the time, and I heard him say this during a sermon several years ago. Isn't it interesting? The Christian is supposed to live life as if everyone else in the world has rights except themselves. If we are to truly follow Paul's words and "Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves" (Philippians 2:3), then living without personal rights is the logical conclusion. In a perfect world, this would work beautifully, but in our fallen world it is almost counterintuitive. We are to deny our own rights while everyone else has been commanded to affirm them. We are to affirm everyone else's rights while they have all been commanded to deny them.

I'll admit that this is so much easier said than done. We have to look out for other's interests, and at the same time not expect that anyone will return the favor. I fail at this every day. I would rather life be fair, or at least my version of fair. I would rather have my way. But, even God isn't fair. He is gracious and saves scores of sinners from the hell that they deserve. No one on this earth deserves grace or selflessness, but if the perfect God can be merciful, then He is not being unreasonable by asking us to tell the truth, even to those who have lied to us, or to refrain from coveting, even toward those who have yearned for our possessions. This is what it means to live up to our Bill of Rights.

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