One of the crucial questions in our current moment of governmental overreaches has to do with how we understand our rights as Christians living in this world. Many of our current discussions evidence a great misunderstanding of our calling as believers in this world in times when the culture or governing authorities begin to oppose us. For some, if social media evidences at all the current trajectory of Christian thought, their sole purpose in our turbulent times seems to be to stand up for their rights against governmental overreach.
Little reflection appears to be given to the New Testament data in how the apostles thought when they faced the trampling of their rights in this world. There are, of course, rights that are afforded to the people by the constitutional laws of the governing authorities, but all Christians should recognize that the freedoms we have and the rights that we enjoy in this life are under God’s sovereign discretion.
We were told way back in the Old Testament that governing authorities have the propensity to trample rights and take from the people (I Sam. 8). But when someone becomes a Christian, there is a distinctive perspective one is to have in how rights are used in this world. When we came to Christ, we surrendered all of our rights to Christ who sovereignly governs our earthly lives for a much greater end than our own happiness. Christ may certainly give us to enjoy earthly rights in our time on this earth, or he may, in his providence, allow them to be taken from us for a cause that is much greater than us. The question is how the biblically inspired writers handled themselves when their rights were taken.
On the Loss of Rights
Of great importance to this question is something that is said in Hebrews 10:34: “For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one.” Notice carefully how these believers were commended for their faith by joyfully accepting the confiscation of their earthly belongings. I confess, this is a hard statement for me to read. These early Christians were facing unlawful seizure of their property due to official actions by magistrates for the reason that they were Christians. Yet, they joyfully accepted such abuse? Read more»
Chris Gordon | “Paul and His Roman Constitutional Rights” | December 17, 2021
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