Living in the United States, many have come to value freedom over all else. Further, we have come to equate freedom with individual rights and the moment that my rights have been even slightly bumped, we cry foul. We then turn to our democratic government believing that it is their responsibility to protect our rights and we join political parties and various political organizations to make our rights a priority and to protect them.
The problem is that this wars against much of what we ought to be living as a follower of Christ.
Let me say at the outset, I am a proponent of being involved in our government. I do not in any way shape or form believe Christians should eschew government involvement. Further, I am in favor of all people, regardless of race, creed, ethnic background, gender, or sexual orientation being treated fairly and equitably. As a woman I’ve faced way more discrimination and demeaning treatment than I would wish on anyone.
As a Christ-follower, however, I see two serious issues with the attitudes that can take root deeply in our psyche, when we allow democracy to go too far.
It’s Not About My Rights
First, as a Christ-follower, it’s not about my rights. It’s about Christ, having Him formed in me and living my life through Him.
When I read the Gospels, I don’t see Christ standing up for His rights. I don’t see Him demanding anything except a respect for and honoring of God. I know the moment that attitude rises up in me that says “what about my rights?” or “I deserve…” – I know that in that moment I’ve lost sight of Christ. Democracy has gone too far when it fosters the idea that my rights are superior to all else, when it causes me to have the default position that being wronged is an actionable offense.
I do not see that in Christ. I see Him laying down His life for His sheep. I see Him forgiving offenses and not keeping score (thankfully). I see Him taking the punishment I deserve and saying “I forgive you.” That ought to be my default position, not “I demand to be treated equal or I will take action to force you to do so.”
We have become an overly litigious society because we have allowed the world to convince us that our freedom is more important than our walk with Christ. That having my rights respected is more important than walking in forgiveness. Essentially, we have allowed the world to influence us to the point that we often establish “our rights” as our god. Lord forgive us.
We Live in a Kingdom
Secondly, when we live with the “democracy” mindset, it is very easy to forget that we live in a Kingdom that is ruled by a King. In our democracy, we live our lives from the perspective of organizing to get what we want (or at the very least arguing interminably to get what we want). It’s a perspective that wars against an attitude that says “here I am, send me.” (Isaiah 6:8)
As Christ-followers, we are not only children of the King, we are also subjects of the King. In the United States we struggle to understand the King/subject relationship because our very development as a nation plants in us the DNA not of a slave, but of independence – of one who glories in their freedom. Being independent is not a good quality for a Christ-follower. God wants us to be dependent on Him and it is a very hard practice to learn when everyone around us preaches independence and freedom. Yes, it is for freedom that Christ has set us free (Galatians 5:1), but read the entire book – He has set us free – released us from the “curse of the law” (Galatians 3:13).
We live in a Kingdom, and in a Kingdom the King rules. I am thankful that I serve a loving, merciful, compassionate King. But I must regularly be reminded that I serve a King, and what He says and wants is far, far more important than what I want.
Again, please do not read into this that I believe we should not work to improve our government or that we should not pursue equitable treatment for all. Let’s work hard, however, to follow Christ first, embracing His attitudes and purposes. The Apostle Paul put it this way:
Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross!
Lord, help us to stay Christ-focused in heart and mind and attitude.
God bless America.
Enjoy your 4th of July celebrations!