The Expository Files.

  "I Demand My Rights!" 

Mantras Of The 90's
Special Series, #12 (Final) 

It is fashionable and politically correct in our society to enter into a campaign or struggle to gain or assert your rights. And nobody can dispute, there are certain rights that should be available to us as citizens; there is a legitimate claim to freedom we should have.

But here's what has happened: we start out with a principle that is valid but there is the temptation to get carried away! We get our hands on some value, principle or observation that is correct and undisputed. But there seems to be a tendency to take that undisputed truth and exaggerate it, overstate it, and then go wild with all the ramifications. So today, it seems like every group, every sub-culture or cult or people with some eccentric lifestyle or distinction CAN BE HEARD MAKING A LOT OF NOISE ABOUT THEIR RIGHTS. There is, in our society, RIGHTS-MANIA! An obsession with individual rights often severed from any emphasis on responsibility. We hear people saying ...

"I Demand My Rights!"

Part of this is a tendency toward personal autonomy. There seems to be this tendency in us to disregard God's direction, and "strike out" on our own, without restrictions or restraint. There is this common tendency toward personal autonomy, or self-rule ... and illustrations of this are too numerous to deny.

You see this everywhere: on our bumper stickers, in magazines and newspapers, self-help books, seminars, talk shows and in our music. A few years ago, the popular phrase was, "DO YOUR OWN THING." Several observers called the 1980's, the "Me Generation."

Man seems driven to try to pilot his own course to happiness, without God and without the laws and principles God has given for us. There is this tendency toward personal autonomy. We want to claim our rights and live in some sort of fantasy world, without restrains or requirements. And sometimes - we get so entangled in this self-centered way of life, that how we want to live determines our view of religion and God ... instead of the other way around. So we insist upon our rights.

What I want to say about all of that is very simple: God has rights too! In the news or in conversations this past week, I suspect you've heard about somebody's rights. I bet you didn't hear very much about God's right. God has rights!

In Gen. 1:1, you know how the Bible begins: "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth." (Genesis 1:1, KJV). That verse tells us something we need to know, about "the heaven and the earth." But this opening sentence has another purpose; It tells us about God as the Creator. Did you know the word "created" in Gen. 1:1 is a Hebrew word that never applies to man; it is a verb beyond human action; ONLY GOD CAN CREATE. He brought everything into existence, just by saying the word. Once we acknowledge God as the Creator, a corollary to that confession is - GOD HAS RIGHTS! We're talking about the right of the Creator over the created.

And so it says, in Romans 9:21 - "Hath not the potter power over the clay..." Over the past several years there is a word that has become a prominent part of our vocabulary: EMPOWERMENT. People, in asserting their rights, want to be empowered. God is empowered, because He is God, the Almighty Creator! "Hath not the potter power over the clay?" God has rights.

"For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways," says the LORD. "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts." (Isa. 55:8,9, NKJV).

Sometimes, we get all mixed up. We think of something; we imagine something; we desire something - then we leap to the conclusion that God certainly must agree with us. We make our thoughts His thoughts. But Isaiah tells us what God says: "...My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways," says the Lord! We have no right to impose our thoughts upon God. In fact and point of truth - THE THOUGHTS AND WAYS OF GOD ARE HIGHER THAN THE THOUGHTS AND WAYS OF MEN ... God Has Rights.

So, if we're going to talk about rights here is a legitimate right, possessed by the Creator because He is the Creator and Sustainer of life: GOD HAS THE RIGHT TO MAKE THE LAWS THAT SHOULD GOVERN US, and we should be thankful and happy, He has revealed His will to us. I can know what's right and wrong. I can use God's law to set my priorities. I can know how to think, speak and live. THIS IS FUNDAMENTAL - the right of God to make the laws to govern us from day to day.

What is your response?

By Warren E. Berkley  
From Expository Files 4.12; December 1997