If you happened to notice that I haven’t posted a blog in a while, there’s a reason. It’s this blog post, which I knew I wanted to write, or needed to write, but feared to write.
When Jesus died on the cross, he died to put us into a right relationship with God. He died to free us from the sin that so often controls our lives. He died to place us in his family and to give us a mission of helping others come to know him, introducing them to his Kingdom.
But what I’ve been hearing from way too many people, people who name themselves Christians, is an insistence that Jesus died so their rights would not be violated. We have people who cited Romans 13:14 during the last presidency to insist we need to obey our government (which I believe, by the way) choosing now to defiantly disobey the government, mainly because there’s a president or party not of their liking in charge. We have churches and individuals endangering the health of others to have their own way, because it’s their “God-given right to do so.” We even have a pastor suing another pastor for hurting his “future earning potential.”
I don’t get it.
The Scriptures I read talk of a Jesus who gave up his rights in order to come and sacrifice for us. You can read about that in Philippians 2:5–8. Jesus talks about how the way we win in life is by giving up our rights, our own life even; denying ourselves for others and for his Kingdom (Mark 8:34–37). He condemns those who keep their religious traditions, including tithing, but neglect justice and mercy and faithfulness (Matthew 23:23–28). Jesus says that we give away our lives, putting others first, in order to reap the blessings of God.
Paul talks about curtailing our freedoms for the sake of others, even if we don’t agree with their stand (I Corinthians 8:9–13). Peter tells us to submit ourselves to human government and not to use our freedom to do evil, because we are servants of God (I Peter 2:13–17). Paul reminds us that the freedom we have isn’t about pleasing us (our “flesh”) but about serving our neighbors in love (Galatians 5:13–15).
It comes back to the Great Commandment:
Love God with all your being
and love your neighbor.
That’s the life I want to live. A life of love that makes others consider who Jesus is and what he sacrificed for them and the life he offers.
It isn’t always easy. It’s not always comfortable; actually, it’s rarely comfortable. Sacrifice isn’t easy.
But it makes a difference.
I want my life to count for God—
for the God who gave up his rights
to die for me.