I have two younger sisters. For the vast majority of my life, they’ve been stealing from me. My (now lost) class ring. My white sweater I found covered in orange soda and stuffed in the back of a drawer. CDs, books, and movies all had a tendency to disappear. I once bought a pack of socks and marked each one with a giant “L” in black Sharpie – all gone within a week.
They took other things too. I can sometimes see myself when they laugh at something cheesy or fall in love with a nostalgic Victorian movie. I see me in some of their Biblical views or even the hairstyle that often seems to mimic my own. I love that. But sometimes I see bits of myself in other ways, like their hardheadedness or the way they say something that we all know they shouldn’t have. I really, really hate that.
For nearly as long as I can remember, I’ve been watched. Not just watched, but mimicked. And not by just anyone, but by two people who I love more than myself and my greatest hope for them is that they make it to Heaven.
For nearly as long as I can remember, the phrase “it’s my right and I can do what I want” has been all but meaningless.
If you’re not already aware then I’m sorry to be the one to break this to you, but once you’re a Christian your “rights” don’t really exist anymore. Just like I’ve had two girls watching me, for better or worse, from the day they were born, and just like nearly everything I do is in the desperate hope that it will be an example that gets them to closer to Heaven…the second you come out of the water as a new Christian you become an example that will lead others closer to or farther away from Christ.
When you become a Christian, you a) become one small part of a much larger body of Christians (1 Cor. 12:12) and b) should be following Paul’s example of no longer living for yourself but letting Christ live through you (Gal. 2:20). Think of how many problems exist in your world. Think of how many of those would disappear completely if people were less concerned with their own rights and more concerned with being the example Christ calls us to be to others.
Abortion – Based on a woman’s “rights”. Rudeness – Often passed off as one’s “right” to speak their mind. Drinking, clothes you know you shouldn’t wear but do anyways, lost relationships and hurt feelings can all come from one person feeling that they need to exercise whatever “right” they believe they deserve. We forget that we’re being watched. Or we don’t believe that we ever were to begin with and so what we do really doesn’t affect anyone else.
What you do matters. How you act matters. What you say matters. You’re being watched by Christians who are looking for encouragement and someone to make them feel like they aren’t alone. You’re being watched by non-Christians who want to see if your faith really means anything or if you’re just another hypocrite.
Jesus didn’t see fit to claim His (legitimate) right when he died on the cross. He had all the right in this and every world to take whatever He wanted. But He didn’t. He “humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Phil. 2:8). Humbled Himself. To the point of death. A long, bitter, excruciatingly painful death on a cross.
And what are we so afraid of? Being taken advantage of? Losing an argument? Not having our way?
Forget your rights. Remember His. One of the greatest rights we have as a Christian is to wear His name and live a life that shares the message of His sacrifice. Remember you’re an example and that what you do is important. Remember His love for you means that you should want to do anything you can so that others can share in that as well.
“But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world…And as for all who walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.”
(Galatians 6:14, 16)