Ever since my Bible study last week, I’ve been thinking about rights.  We live in a country where we can easily get what we want by throwing out the phrase, “I demand my rights!”  We have a right to privacy, a right to speak out, a right to vote, a right to be judged by our peers.  I deeply appreciate the blessing it is to live in a country where I have the right to worship freely and write this blog without fear of retaliation.  And I believe fervently in human rights.  I think that the life of Jesus – more than any other – shows us how God values human beings He Himself knit together.  Compassion.  Dignity.  Respect.  Jesus embodied these things with a purity of intentions that has never and will never be completely matched among men.

But it occurs to me that Jesus did not demand any rights for Himself when He walked the earth.  In fact, when James and John were completely consumed with their eternal seating arrangement, audaciously telling Jesus, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask,” Jesus told them “whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all.  For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 11:35-45)  And God With Us could have demonstrated His authority when He was on trial and shut the mouths of His accusers, but He did not.  The Word of God was silent (Luke 23:10).  The One to whom all praise is due did not demand our love but instead laid down His life by His own choice (John 10:18).

“I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.  I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master …” (John 13:1-16)

Sometimes we think God owes us something.  He does not.  He is a gracious God and desires to bless His children (Luke 11:9-13).  But it is because of His mercy that we do not receive what we deserve.  We must come to the realization that what we think we deserve and what we actually deserve are usually polar opposites.  And in order for us to gain everything graciously promised to us in Christ (John 10:10, II Corinthians 1:19-20), we must give up everything this world tells us to hold onto with an iron fist (Luke 17:33).  Sometimes it is necessary for us not to get our way in this life, so that Jesus can have His way in us.

“God wants to bring you into union with Himself, but unless you are willing to give up your right to yourself He cannot.”  (Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest)

There’s only room for One on the throne.

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