We are blessed in the United States to enjoy many freedoms. But when we start taking those freedoms for granted, we slip into an entitlement mentality that includes what we believe to be our “rights.” Interestingly, it is not until those are challenged that we make an issue of them. The media is adept at seizing upon the most controversial social, political, and even religious issues, to stir the pot over whose rights are being denied or exploited. The result is polarization among people. Selfishness reigns as my right to do or not do whatever is more important than your right to do likewise. Common decency and morality take a back seat to what I want and need.
While whatever is in the news grabs our attention, the most telling situations crop up in our personal lives on a daily basis. If dad works hard to support his family, then he has a right to play golf, or [FILL IN THE BLANK] on Saturday. If he’s doing [FILL IN THE BLANK], then mom has the right to go shopping, or [FILL IN THE BLANK]. If mom and dad are rewarding themselves, then the kids get to [FILL IN THE BLANK]. Ultimately, my right to self-gratification very likely denies my spouse the right to be my first priority as I promised in my wedding vows. It denies my children the instruction and modeling to establish their own healthy relationships. Because the total exercise of my personal freedom causes harm to those I love, my freedom should stop where another person’s begins.
In actuality, this is what God did for us. As Creator, He knit us together in our mother’s wombs, crafting us with physical attributes, and specific gifts and talents. The mental capability of intelligent reasoning gave us the ability to choose. Unfortunately, recorded history clearly demonstrates people of all walks and races making bad choices. God’s loving compassion for His creation prompted His choice to intervene to save us from ourselves. As a result, Jesus chose to give up His Deity and all his “rights” as God to become like man, so that He could show men a better way. But even among Jesus’ disciples, the issue of who was the greatest (defined by who was able to exercise his right of being served by others because he was a Jesus-insider) came to a head. Jesus seized the teachable moment, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45)
I suppose it could be said that Jesus’ “right” to die for us provided us the “right” to live. Imagine what the world would look like if those of us who claim to be Christ-followers exercised our “rights” — “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23) Jesus demonstrated how, while still leaving the choice up to us. According to Jesus’ definition, are we truly disciples?