March 4, 2013

Slaves Do Not Have Entitlement Mentalities

I’ve heard it said by politicized Christians. I’ve heard myself say it. “These are my God given rights!” I have also said that I have the right to defend my rights. Then a voice whispers to me in my head...“If you’ve died to self, what rights do you have, whose rights would you be defending?” I am conflicted. The sinful man in me wants to get what I believe I have earned and what I have coming to me. I want to believe that I have rights or am entitled to basic things just like the US founding documents have so forcefully resolved.

Then the voice whispers again...

"Jesus Himself considered Himself of no accord. He abandoned Himself to the will of the Father…even if it meant to face death."

John 6:38, "For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.

Philippians 2:6-8 “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death-even death on a cross!
Luke 9:23 “Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.”
It was a death he ultimately faced. It was undeserved and it was not right. Jesus in His obedience to the will of the Father ditched His own will…and His rights. What is this telling us? What does this tell me as a Christian…an American?
When one believes they have rights…they will end up demanding them and if they do not get what they deserve they will often become vindictive or worse - angry. Did God grant all humans inalienable rights or is that a man-made concept? God indeed gives humanity their value - but rights? When we die to self as Christians does this concept still apply?
God made man as the pinnacle of His creation and gave man dominion over the earth but does this equate to rights? We indeed are created in the image of God and Jesus did come as a man. But rights? In truth the more I read the Bible the more I start to realize that in this life the Christian has no “rights” of his own, because he has surrendered his life to Christ. Christ “owns” the believer. He is our Master and we are His δοῦλοι /slaves.
“...You are not your own; you were bought at a price...” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
A slave as commonly understood in the time of 1 Corinthians had little or no rights. They were at the will of their master. What does this tell us as Christians? What does this tell me as an American if I am a Christian…a δοῦλος /slave of Christ? We have no righteousness nor do we have rights in the eyes of God as we are sinners saved by grace. We need a Savior and it is through Him we have any righteousness, rights or value whatsoever. We are in Him. If we are in Him we need to ask ourselves, what type of life did He live? Did He demand His rights? If we are in Him, what does this tell us? What can we expect? I suspect we can expect suffering and violation of our so-called rights. Look what Jesus ended up telling Peter in John 21 about following in His footsteps:
John 21:17-19 ~ "Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!"
Yet, ironically...because of the One we represent we are not to be complete doormats to the system of the world / κόσμος …because we are told to resist evil (Titus 2:12). But I can hear the dissenters already quoting Matthew 5:39, "But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.” Sorry folks, this does not mean to lie down and be a doormat. It means you are not to set yourself against one who wrongs you and seek vengeance against that person/people. In other words don't resist evil with evil. Matthew 5:39 does not mean to make yourself defenseless. If we take the wrong interpretation of Matthew 5:39 to its absurd ends it leads to chaos and evil completely reigning.
On the flip side to this, it is not mean you have rights either.
We are to resist sin. Sin might be personal to us but in reality it is first and foremost an offense against God, not against a man. Yes, we’re made in the image of God but this does not necessarily equate to rights in this world for us. As a matter of fact, like Christ, what we will get in this world is just the opposite. If they crucified the Savior, what will they do to us?
I’ll be quite honest, everything in me fights against this concept. If someone asks me to go one mile, my reaction is not to go two it is to tell the person to get bent and carry his own gear. If someone bad mouths me my reaction is not to just accept it, it is to write a blog article on why that person is an imbecile. If someone strikes me on the cheek, I want to pulverize them and drive them into the ground like a sledgehammer on a tent peg. But I am a slave of the Most High who allowed Himself to be crucified for my sins. I have no rights as He is my Master and my Master does not want me driving people into the ground like tent pegs. He could easily do that but He does not. This should tell me something also.
If we have died to self and submitted to Christ, the implications for us in this life are startling.
We have freedom but it has been bought for a price. We have freedom but not everything is beneficial to do in our "freedom". We have liberty but the truth is that we should gladly lay it down to serve others in self-sacrificial giving whenever necessary. Our freedom was gained for us from sin but in return we must repent and submit to the One who bought us out of our old slavery. In reality we are His slave now. We don’t necessarily have rights. We do have rewards in heaven though. Sometimes we need to be the anvil that takes the blows of the hammers in bad people’s hands. We should get used to this as this is the life of one who dies daily. In truth…you have no rights.
Instead of wanting our rights we should want righteousness. Instead of expecting our rights we should be thankful for our blessings.
Instead of always demanding our rights and expecting things to be certain ways, shouldn’t we be looking to do right things as told in Scripture? God never promised us “right” or rights in this life, He rightly promised us eternal life in the next. That eternal life only comes when we repent and submit to Him and trust in Him. When we do this, our supposed rights we think we have now end up pale by comparison.

2 Corinthians 4:17-18 “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”

Romans 8:18 “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”

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