A Cliché that Cripples – Christians have no rights.
Some years ago, my husband was defrauded by a fellow Christian in a church matter. When my husband confronted him about the matter, the offending brother said, "Brother, your problem is that you think you’ve got rights." Having justified his behavior in his own mind, the offender went on his way, leaving my husband’s career in ruins and his spirit in shambles.
The offender’s statement, however, is a logical fallacy designed to turn the conversation from the offender’s sin to my husband’s justified sense of offense. There are three major aspects to the question of rights. First, no human being has the right to demand entrance into Heaven without accepting Jesus Christ as Savior. Second, we do have the right to be treated with justice, courtesy, and respect by fellow believers. Third, the real issue is not the offended person’s rights, but the offender’s responsibilities. Only when the focus is correct will the deliberate offenses end.
It seems best to me to begin with the one right no human being has, and that is the right to demand entrance to Heaven on our own terms. We do not have that right, because of what Heaven is. It is not the Christian equivalent of the Greek Elysian fields, which were the abode of those who had lived a good life by Greek standards. Heaven is God’s domain; He decides the terms. He has said that He cannot abide sin. Who of us has not sinned and disqualified him or herself? (Rom. 3:23) That is why God made a way to enter Heaven: Jesus Christ (Jn 3:16). God has the right to make the rules, and His Judgements follow His Holy Nature.
However, once we do accept Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, God also expects us to change our behavior. Our sinful nature is never an excuse. For this reason, we are expected to treat our fellow believers with courtesy, respect, and honesty, and we have the right to expect such in return. This is no more than what God requires. That is why we are often taken by surprise and shocked when our fellow believers abuse us. When those who abuse us try to justify their behavior by claiming that our shock is due to an expectation of rights we don’t have, they are also ignoring their own responsibilities.
Responsibility is a word that many people, including Christians, do not want to hear. However, accepting responsibility is the mark of a maturing Christian. We have a responsibility to obey God, once we make Jesus Christ Lord. Those who ignore this responsibility are by their very actions not only hurting their fellow believers, but also defying God Himself. By defrauding a brother, they are denying that God has any say in the way they live their lives. This situation is not new in the Church. The Apostle Paul’s letters to the various churches are full of the practical doctrines affecting everyday living and interacting with both fellow believers and the outside world. Sometimes he even has to rebuke those who, like the modern offenders, think that they can do as they wish, and that God will overlook their behavior. I assure you He will not. Paul tells us, "Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap," (Gal. 6:7 NASB).
Therefore, as Christians, we must all be careful. First, our standing before God is His gift to us. For that reason, in gratitude, we all ought to strive together to produce the behavior and spirit that honor God. We each must remember our responsibilities, and be quick to apologize and atone when we fail to live up to them. At the same time, hard as this will be to do, once we have confronted those who offend us and do not receive the apology and atonement we are due, we must leave the rest to God. He has promised to take care of it, and we must trust Him, even if His timing confuses us. Contrary to popular (and sinful) belief, the temporary prosperity of the offender is not God’s sanction on his behavior.
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