Friday, December 13, 2013

God-given rights? ...................................... Parables 053

If a theme song were written for the 80's, it would probably be entitled, “I Have My Rights.” So many are singing it.

The word “rights” usually describes the privileges or freedoms granted to individuals by a higher authority. But sometimes the protest “I have my rights”, really means “I want something ... and no one is going to stop me from having it.” 

As early as we can talk, we seem concerned about rights... at least in North America. Affluence, many political and social privileges, perhaps even being “spoiled rotten”, contributes to a fierce sense of ownership towards certain freedoms, possessions, and responsibilities.

Thus we claim “rights” in many areas... the right to be treated equal, or the right to equal wages, or the right to speak, or to select clothes, or music, or hair styles. Some believe we should have the right to abuse our rights, to go outside society’s norm, to be bizarre, to shock or offend others. Most people insist in the right to believe whatever they want to believe, to vote however they want to vote, and to say whatever they want to say. Many look to some higher authority to grant, or at least enforce, those rights.

The Bible sheds some interest on this concept of “rights.” It uses the word “exousia” which means freedom of action, or the right to act. When this word is used to describe God, it means absolute or unrestricted freedom. In other words, God has every right to do what He wants to do. He alone has that power and ability and there is no higher authority.

When “exousia” is used in regard to us, it is a delegated or given freedom. More simply, our rights are not an automatic possession but something that is a granted as a privilege or a gift, by God, or by a God-ordained authority.

A basic God-given right is the freedom of choice. God gave each of us a free will, and even though He has the power to, He will not violate that freedom. He respects this right that He has granted to us.

Very importantly connected to that freedom is another right, the right or privilege of being one of His family. This one is also God-given, but granted according to our freedom of choice. In other words, He doesn’t give it to us apart from our decision to receive it.

God says this: “... to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name (referring to Jesus Christ), He gave -the -right to become children- -of God- - children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” (John 1:12,13 NIV)

The choice to believe and receive Christ is ours, but the bestowing of the “right” to be a child of God, is from God. It is not within our ability to become members of His family simply by an act of our own will. God has to grant the privilege. However, this privilege is freely granted to anyone who chooses to believe in His Son and receive Him into their lives.

That theme song, “I Have My Rights”, need not be one of demand and protest. If it is understood as, “He has given me the right...” it can be a song of praise and gratitude to God.

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