Many brothers and sisters have complained recently about the potential loss of rights if a certain candidate was to be elected for presidency. Why do we complain about this? There are direct correlations between this and living with other believers.
First, 1 Corinthians 9:3-12
This is my defense to those who would examine me. Do we not have the right to eat and drink? Do we not have the right to take along a believing wife, as do the other apostles and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas? Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to refrain from working for a living? Who serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard without eating any of its fruit? Or who tends a flock without getting some of the milk? Do I say these things on human authority? Does not the Law say the same? For it is written in the Law of Moses, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain.” Is it for oxen that God is concerned? Does he not speak entirely for our sake? It was written for our sake, because the plowman should plow in hope and the thresher thresh in hope of sharing in the crop. If we have sown spiritual things among you, is it too much if we reap material things from you? If others share this rightful claim on you, do not we even more?
So, initially, we have many rights as apostles of Christ! From here we could make the claim that we have the right to drink, smoke, swear, and do anything else that we have been told is sinful, but is really not. (for the record, I do not consider any of these to be sins).
But should we use these rights?
In swearing, I believe in righteous anger. I believe that there are times when certain words that have been deemed “unclean” by our society should be used. This leads to a fine line between vulgarity (which I would define as swearing just for the sake of swearing because your intelligence level does not have enough words on file so you use f*** in every sentence) and swearing (which would be using a certain word because it is the only one that fits at that moment).
But this is a stumbling block to some people.
Formerly, I was adamant about being able to use my right to certain “unclean words” (not f*** because that is always vulgar), but one morning, while I was searching in my Bible for the above passage, God directed my eyes to the previous chapter.
1 Corinthians 8:11-12 tells us that our rights are not our own. Verse 11 tells us that because of our great knowledge in a certain area, our weaker brother is destroyed. The next verse says that that knowledge causes sin in the weaker brother and wounds their conscience.
God forbid that we ruin a weaker brother’s faith because of our rights.
So we must surrender the rights that we have for the sake of the weaker party, or at least, as Romans 14 tells us, not to quarrel with others about the freedom we have. What I think this means is that if we have a right, we must not use it in the presence of the weaker brother and not argue over it while around them.
So where does this leave us with the election that many were worried about?
First of all, it makes every mouth that was complaining about a loss of rights cursed (and mine is most of all). Because we, as Christians, should die to our selves daily and not fear the one who can kill the body but not touch the soul.
Perhaps the most un-biblical portion of our Constitution is the part that says everyone has the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
It is not that we have these rights and they are ours forever and woe to you if you try to take them from us because we will take our second amendment right and… you get the picture.
Rather, it is that we were given these “rights” by the government (put in place by God) and the government has the right to take them away.
Second, our rights should never be the main focus of anything that we do. A sister in the faith recently had to remind me that true religion is looking after the widow and the fatherless (James 1:27). She also stuck being a place of refuge for the alien in there, taking from biblical proofs that that is important to God. So, if that is the main focus, and not our rights, then we, as Christians, should not care if we have the right to worship in public, speak the truth to others, teach our children the right way to live, and speak against sin (all of which were rumored to be threatened if the candidate were to be elected). Just because we do not have the legal right to these, does not mean that we cannot do them. Christ calls us to live according to His Word. If it coincides with the law of the land, that is a great blessing. If it does not, we take Christ’s Word over all, which is still a great blessing!
First priority: GOD and praising HIS name (legally or illegally)
Second priority: Others, especially the widow, orphan, or sojourner, just don’t take from God.
Third priority: Self (our joy), but only if it does not interfere with putting the other two first.
So I will gladly surrender whatever “right” I have claimed and live as though I do not have any rights, but still teach Christ to all, even if that “right” is taken away.