In an active pandemic world we hear a lot about rights. At the foundation of any personal right is the assumption that being given that right is what best serves society and the individual. In other words you have the right because that right is what is right for the individual and all individuals as they live and interact with each other in society. I think that the vast majority of people define a “Christian country” as a society that allows freedoms, assigns rights only limiting them when the actions of a person will cause harm to another person. Constitutions were written and rights assigned under the belief that protecting people from being oppressed by the government or injured, displaced or otherwise interfered with by fellow citizens, must be preserved.
In a fair and equitable society…
…a society that values the health and wellbeing of all those protected by its governing principals, compassion and serving the common good will always come before serving one’s own interests. People will gladly curtail their rights to protect the rights of others to survive and even thrive. This form of servitude is what defines the humble life of a follower of Christ. Pounding one’s chest and declaring loudly, “I have a right to do this,” thus implying that it is right for me to do regardless of how it serves others, regardless of how it affects others and regardless of how compassionless it is goes against the example Jesus gave us. I can be right about my rights, I can be right about being in the right but righteousness and rightness are not the same thing.
Righteousness and rightness, if I do what is right doesn’t that make me righteous?
If it wasn’t for sinful arrogance and our deep desire to exercise our rights because they are the definition of rightness, righteousness and rightness would be the same thing. If we could fully overcome our tendency to think we have God’s way of doing things all figured out or that the laws of our country and the rights they afford us are sacred God designed, Bible backed ways of living, righteousness and rightness would be interchangeable. If we lived this, everything we thought and did would be the result of seeking God’s point of view. We are, however, more likely to come up with our own actions and reactions to the things of this world and live accordingly based on them being protected as our rights and therefore right.
Jesus is the ultimate example of choosing righteousness over rightness, “God made him who had no sin to be sinfor us…” 2 Corinthians 5:21 (NIV)
You may not have thought of it this way but it would have been right for Jesus to refuse to die. Under God’s law sin is punishable by death therefore He who is without sin has the right to live. Death exists as the payment for sin and Jesus did not sin. It would have been right for Jesus to walk away from the cross because it was us that deserved to die, not Him. Jesus did not stand on rightness but instead on righteousness, He did not claim His rightful place free of pain and death but instead willingly completed God’s plan. Jesus acted in line with God’s point of view which is always righteousness.
How will you view the post pandemic world, what attitude will you choose the next time you encounter a request to give up your rights?
God’s attitude toward each one of us was to send Jesus to take our place even though we deserved death. No one was deemed unredeemable, no one was doomed because of their sin. All were and are offered grace through faith including you and me. Our rights are rightness under the law but righteousness is sacrificial under grace.
You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:6-8 (NIV)