2009-07-28 - Rights
The False Gods Series, Part 2
We (particularly in the US) live in a society in which there is a strong sense of entitlement, where we can sometimes become consumed with our "rights." A young mother insists on her "right" to nurse her child in public, seemingly forgetting the "rights" of those around her, some of who are for example, the parents of young children who haven't yet been told "the facts of life." What about their "rights," or the rights of those whose sincere religious convictions cause them to not want to see the private parts of others - don't they have any rights?
People turn up their car radios to deafening levels (some which come through closed windows and override others' own radios), proclaiming their "rights" to listen to their own music, oblivious to the rights of others to drive in peace, and to be able to hear their own musical preferences. Should rude, bad-mannered people have more rights than considerate ones?
States fight it out in court, over water rights - with not only sufficient, safe drinking water at stake - but people's livelihoods, as well. No easy answers.
Lawsuits have become the "national pastime," tying up the justice system and contributing to higher costs, such as malpractice insurance, which hurts everyone, including those poorest among us. Any time someone is injured, you can be sure there's a lawsuit coming around the corner, whether there was intent to harm or not. The "victims" often don't even care. Innocent people - who never intended harm and just made a human mistake (which every one of us will do) - sometimes have their lives ruined, because of someone else's "right" to sue. There is no grace. Hmmm ... now who was that itinerant Carpenter that had so much to say about grace? But in the "entitlement" mindset, there must be "someone to blame" and hold responsible, someone to pay what the "victim" is entitled to.
There are even imaginary rights. Some people honestly believe that they have the right to disobey the police. There is no such right (at least in the US). And we should be thankful; if we can each make up our own rules and laws, there is no protection for any of us. Rights become false gods, when they cause us to fail to obey God's word, which instructs us, for example, to be considerate of others. What did our Lord Christ have to say about entitlement? Would he march for His rights, sue at the "drop of a hat," or do television interviews to demand His rights? Hardly. Rather, Christ taught us (via both words and example) to be humble, generous and unselfish, to surrender our rights. Here are some of his sobering words for us: "If someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life" (Matthew 5, The Message). And in Matthew 5, He taught us, "When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer for that person." (The Message).
Jesus' way isn't the easy way, but it's the best way. So the next time we are insisting on what we feel "entitled" to, let's stop and think about what our Lord has taught us - and ask for His strength to respond, not as the world and its teachers would urge us to do, but rather His way.
Comments or Questions?