Rights and Responsibilities

The West has finally achieved the rights of man…but man’s responsibility to God and to society has grown dimmer and dimmer – Aleksander Solzhenitysn

responsibilityIn a country where the law of the land, and all of the rights that come with it, is of more value than the Word of God (even for believers), it is countercultural for someone to pick up this Word, and choose to live their lives by it. Yes, it is quite easy to guide our lives by scriptural truths that contain promises of blessing, health, wealth, and favor. But we willingly ignore passages that hold us to a standard of responsibility, especially to our God and to our neighbor.

Of God, we minimize sins that are burdensome for us to abandon, ones that we are far too comfortable in entertaining such as sexual sins, lying and envy. We reinterpret the Word for our purposes, and explain away our vices, so that at least in our own eyes we will be found righteous, even though before God we are a mess. And should someone have the audacity to rebuke or chastise us for our actions (in love and sincerity), we put the onus back on them for violating our rights to privacy, safety, and to live free of judgment. We don’t want to be reproved, we want to know that even in the midst of our filthiness that ‘I’m okay and you’re okay.’ Meanwhile, our deceit is leading us further from God and closer to the gates of hell.

And instead of looking out for the best interests of our neighbor, we look after ourselves, providing assistance and love to the other inasmuch as it is convenient, and doesn’t demand us to leave our comfort zones. We don’t feed the hungry, clothe the poor, comfort those who are mourning, visit those in prison, or relive the plight of the suffering and find that it is okay to not do so because our culture doesn’t require it of us. In fact, in some cases, we are willing to go one step further and assault our neighbors verbally or physically, and use our rights to free speech, carry arms, and a host of others, to defend our actions.

Concerning the way we treat both God and others, we look to our rights as American citizens, and perhaps even rights that we have pronounced upon ourselves, over and above the Greatest Commandment – “Love the LORD your God with all of your heart, and with all of your soul and with all of your mind…and love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22.37 – 39). Yet we must remember that while we are citizens of this land, we are citizens of heaven first! Our primary allegiance should be to the God that we serve, and His Word, not the constitution, its amendments, or any other thing that could possibly take the place of His Word in our lives. Although we have amassed amazing rights, when fulfilling those rights puts us in jeopardy of breaking shalom with God or with our neighbor, we have to be willing to lay them down.

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