Friday, December 01, 2006

What We Renounce

These days it seems Christians are mostly known for what they denounce - the things they're opposed to: embryonic stem cell research, abortion, same-sex marriage, etc. Of course these are legitimate concerns which the Bible speaks to, and the Christian contribution to the national debate on these issues is as valuable as that of any other group. But if we're not careful, something very un-Christian begins to happen: We begin demanding our rights.

You see, according to the Bible, Christians should be best-known not for what they denounce, but for what they renounce - the rights they yield. Christians know, and we need to remind ourselves often, that the only thing anyone is really entitled to is death and punishment (Romans 3:23) because each of us is bad and we love to do bad things. This offends God who is perfectly holy and pure and has commanded us to be holy as well (1 Peter 1: 15-16). We Christians should not rush to demand what we deserve. A song by DEREK WEBB has a line that says, "I repent of living like I deserve anything."
Instead, we should be people known for sacrificial service and love to everyone - friend and foe alike. This means we yield up our rights to very specific things. Tom Harmon, the Christian preacher and evangelist, LISTS SOME OF THESE THINGS on his website. Here's the first ten, each backed up with Scripture:

  • THE RIGHT TO BE RIGHT. I Cor. 6:7&8, I Peter 2:19 & 3:14 & 17
  • THE RIGHT TO BE HEARD. I Peter 2:23 & 3:10-12, James 3:1-10
  • THE RIGHT TO NURSE MY HURTS. I Peter 5:7, Matt. 18:21& 22, Ps. 130:3
  • THE RIGHT TO LEISURE. Mark 6:30-33
  • THE RIGHT TO BE NEEDED. II Timothy 4:16 & 17, Psalms 8:3 & 4
  • THE RIGHT TO GOOD HEALTH. II Timothy 4:20, Job 2:10, I Peter 4:12 & 13
  • THE RIGHT TO FINANCIAL SECURITY. Acts 3:6, I Corinthians 9:16-18

  • The reason I am so often unhappy is that I tend to think I have a right to this-or-that, and when my expectations aren't met I get frustrated, or angry, or anxious, or bitter. Lord help me, and everyone who follows Jesus, to learn to lay down our rights and live on the strenght you provide, just as Jesus did:

    "But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. 'He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.' When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly." (1 Peter 2:20-23)


    Gretchen said...

    Ouch! You are right, of course. I need to look up some of those verses when I have a Bible handy.

    Thanks for posting some new stuff. Staying current is the only way to ensure readership!

    On the side. . . what time are you picking me up? I thought perhaps we could run out and get Christmas lights before the party.

    James and Christen said...

    A great challenge. I really need to focus on renoucing my rights and living in full surrender.