"The stamp of the Saint is that he can waive his own rights and obey the Lord Jesus." - C.S. Lewis
Matt Chandler wrapped up his 20-sermon series on Colossians a few weeks ago and is starting a series on the ultimate authority of God.
Here's the truth...you have no inherent rights.
Psalm 115, Daniel 4, Romans 9.
The point is clear. God can and will do what He wants in whatever way He wants to do it. Not a popular topic to preach. We are much more interested in the verses that make us feel warm and cuddly. We like the verses that help us make God into the image we want rather than explore the depths of His actual being.
Humans have always been keenly interested in their rights and what they deserve. The US Constitution speaks to every human as having certain unalienable rights...right to life, right to liberty and the pursuit of happiness. George W Bush also used the idea of "rights to freedom" as one of his many justifications for the Iraqi war. Do we really have any rights?
The right to life seems like a no brainer. But that is a right only in the context that God gives life and it is up to God, and not to man, when that life should end. So, it's not our right we should be fighting for in the war against abortion but rather that humans shouldn't be taking a life that isn't their right to take.
Chandler talked about the modern day understanding of human rights being born in the "Age of Enlightenment" from 18th century France. Jefferson and Franklin were both spectators and students of that movement whose primary purpose was to abolish the authority of state religion and the hereditary aristocracy. In its place, proponents believed that human logic and reason should dictate the rights of the individual rather than some faceless, power-hungry institution. (As a quick aside, the times that Christianity has gotten in the most trouble and strayed furthest from the will of God is when it has aligned itself with the powers of this world.)
So, the language of the Constitution makes sense in that context, as well as the tyranny that the Founders and their families had experienced both in Britain as well as in the wars leading to the founding of this nation. It is pervasive in our culture now. The idea that we are entitled to certain things and that our sense of fairness and justice is rational and justified are as natural as the air we breathe.
How does it make you feel to hear God say that He will do what He wants in whatever manner pleases Him? Does it make you say, "But wait...or what about...or that doesn't seem...?" God's sovereignty will drive you to one of two places. It will either lead to immense anger as you feel yourself being trampled upon by a dictator or it will lead to immense freedom and joy as the benevolent and just Creator of the Universe is on His throne. Your response will be largely determined on whether or not you think you are the center of the story. Most of us think we are...even Christians.
The only right you have is the right of sonship...the right to be called a child of God because of the cross. And guess what? That right wasn't inherent in your being a human. It was a gift of grace and mercy.