Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Have You Earned Your Rights???

"Behold, You have made my days as handbreadths,
And my lifetime as nothing in Your sight;
Surely every man at his best is a mere breath."

-Psalm 39:5

I was reading this Psalm and writing down what the Lord was teaching me through it. When I got to this verse I began writing about the obvious--that in comparison to the eternity of Our God, we definitely are nothing but short breaths. While thinking in this perspective, this proper perspective, we, like David, begin to realize what life is not about--it isn't about fighting; it isn't about walking around angry and bitter; it isn't about all the money we can make; it isn't about popularity contests. But fact is we all, somehow and in someway, get caught up in the temporality of life. That is life and as I began to mediate a little more I started to think about the way we live or lives, mainly that we believe in the "right to life."

Most of us who live in this world take hold of the rights that have been bestowed on us as a result of being human. In America this is most evident as we talk about our rights of privacy and personal space or our right to pursue happiness. In our country it goes even further, beyond human rights and into citizenship rights. By being born on American soil or by having an U.S.-born parent, I am automatically given the freedom of speech, religion, etc.; I have the right to bear arms, the right to a fair trial and all the other rights granted to us by the great Constitution of the United States. Some fight to maintain both these human and constitutional rights while others fight to bring these rights to people around the world who have never experienced the joy and freedom of living in them. But because they are rights, most of us take them for granted, much like the love of our parents or the superior technology of today in that while at times we express our appreciation for them, we more often than not live as if we deserve them.

And that is my question:

"What makes any of us think we deserve any of the rights given to us throughout our lives, whether human or constitutional?"

Is it simply because we are human? Is it because my parents are American? I don't have the problem with the answer to those questions being yes, but that then puts us in a position not many of us are comfortable with--a position of grace.

If because I am human I have inherited the rights of a human being and if because I am an American I have been given the rights of an American citizen, how can I ever be in a position to say that I deserve them...unless I give in to the position of grace. I did nothing before I was born into this world to earn the right to be a human or to be an American--that just simply happens to be the way it is. And now I sit here in a public place, enjoying a hot cup of coffee, writing somewhat intelligent, organized thoughts, without being attacked or bothered, protected by my rights and freedom. But I can't remember ever doing anything ever in my lifetime that opened the door to the position in which I now sit. I am in a position of grace.

Interestingly though, this is in direct opposition to how many of us think a relationship with God works. The mentality there is, "if I try hard to be a good person and don't do too many wrong things, I can get into heaven." And why not--every other aspect of our lives seems merit-based. Be a good kid, get some candy. The better grades you get the better college you can attend. How well you do in college determines how good your job will be; how well you do at your job determines the salary you will make. We are driven to earn our right to candy, grades, schools, and of course, money. So it is somewhat understandable how quickly we forget about the foundation off which we build--the foundation of human and constitutional rights we never earned, but were simply given as a gift at birth. This is unmerited favor. This is grace. And this is but a "mere breath" compared to the grace given to us spiritually by God through faith in Jesus Christ.

As we cannot earn the rights of being human or American citizens for they have already been given to us, nor can we ever earn salvation with God because the blood of Christ has already given it to us. And as all we did was be born into this world to receive our rights, all we must do is be born again in Spirit in to the kingdom of God through faith in His Son Jesus Christ in order to receive salvation, eternal life, and the true right to be called children of God.

1 comment:

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