Christian ‘rights’ and the lordship of Christ
We hear a lot of talk — a lot of concern — about our rights. As Americans we are thankful for the rights that have been spelled out for us in the Bill of Rights. At the same time we are constantly looking over our shoulder because of a perceived threat that such-and-such group is taking away our rights.
If you lean to the left, some right-wing lobby (or the government) is aggressively working to take away your right to choose … or live where you want … or …
If you lean to the right, some liberal lobby (or the government) is aggressively working to take your right to own a gun … or wave a flag … or …
I’ll admit it. I like my rights. But I don’t want to address our rights as American citizens. I want to address our rights as followers of Christ.
If you are a Christian you have no rights. No group took your rights away from you. You gave them away.
Jesus said, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23). Jesus told us to count the cost of following Him.
Jesus ‘calls the shots’
When we come to Christ, we don’t just come to Him as Savior; we come to Him as Lord. He calls the shots. He owns us. We are no longer our own, but we were bought by Christ (1 Cor. 6:19–20).
We don’t make ourselves doormats for anyone and everyone to walk on, but we are to be considerate of preferences and desires for the sake of others: “In humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others” (Phil 2:3–4).
Have you ever heard the name Eleanor of Aquitaine? She was the queen of France in the 12th century, and she is considered one of the most powerful women ever.
When her husband, King Louis VII, returned from fighting the crusades, he walked into the castle clean shaven. Eleanor thought her clean-shaven husband looked hideous and insisted he grow back his beard. Louis refused. Eleanor divorced him and then turned around and married the king of England.
The squabble between Eleanor and Louis led to a conflict between two countries that lasted almost 120 years, the Hundred Years’ War. The pettiness over a beard led to political alliances that led to war, which led to the deaths of 3.5 million people. If only Louis VII had set aside his preference — and set aside his Bic razor.
A me-centered attitude leads to fighting and divisiveness. It’s serious.
The greatest detriment to the church’s witness in the world is how we treat each other. So let me challenge you, follower of Christ, to do your part. Quit insisting on having things your way. After all you have no rights. You gave all your rights to Jesus, who calls us to follow Him in grace and love.
Lynn H. Pryor
EDITOR’S NOTE — Lynn H. Pryor is team leader for adult ministry at Lifeway Christian Resources. He blogs at lynnhpryor.com. This post is reprinted with permission.
Letters to the Editor
I have great concern for the church in America today. …
A.W. Tozer said 95% of today’s church activities would continue even without the Holy Spirit, but 95% of the activities of the early church would have stopped without the Holy Spirit.
We are in an all-out war. Do we really believe hell is real? We go to church, pay our tithes, sing a few praise songs and then try to beat the crowd to the local diner.
We justify our actions and sacrifice nothing. To refuse to examine ourselves and how we do church is an arrogance, refusing guidance from Christ Himself.
As humans, we are created for more than daily living. We were created specially by God for the sake of God’s own pleasure, and with that comes the greatest joy of being found in a specific and close relationship with Him.
“Created with purpose”
When in a conflict situation, speak less, slow, low and last if possible.
“Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger” (James 1:19).
Full circle. Full joy. Love seeing God’s moments of grace and goodness all around.
Pastor Mark Bethea
First Baptist Church
“The question every kid wants to know … ‘Is God into me and how do I know?’ The answer … Jesus.” —Bob Goff
“Our job is to make it realistic for them to come to a place where they can feel loved and learn about God,” said Chris Lohman, pastor of Garage Church in Huntington Beach, California.
“Compassion is the hallmark of [Jesus Christ’s] life and ministry. It is what drew people to Him. It is what made His preaching different,” said Ed Litton, pastor of Redemption Church in Saraland, in his president’s address during the 2022 SBC Annual Meeting.
“I feel like this job was just created for me. The fact that I’ve been where these people have been, I understand them and understand the situation,” said Kathleen Schuster, program manager for Ministry Village’s Tender Hearts Caring Hands ministry in Pensacola, Florida.
“All of us need to take seriously where we fit in this cause to defend precious preborn lives in a culture of death. It will look different … but the call is still there for all of us,” noted Colson Center President John Stonestreet during a seminar on how pro-life supporters should respond when Roe v. Wade was overturned.
“Only Jesus can save souls. The juggling doesn’t do that. What juggling does for other people is that it brings joy and that alone is a calling,” said Jesse Joyner, a professional juggler and follower of Christ.
“Church Branding 101 is Evangelism 101. It’s not easy, but it is simple. If done properly, the Holy Spirit can use church branding to reach people who never knew they needed Jesus or the church,” said Mark MacDonald, church branding strategist for BeKnownforSomething.com and executive director of the Center for Church Communication.
“The words of Jesus that are to abide in us have the miraculous ability to awaken the unseen spiritual life deep within you that you long for,” said Julie Busler, author of “Joyful Sorrow.”
“Deep grief as a result of unbearable loss is not a teaching moment.” Melanie Desimone, from a blog post at thelifeididntchoose.com
Prayers of a public school teacher
For some reason there’s a negative stigma around public school teachers. But please know that somewhere there’s a teacher praying over a classroom full of students she’s never met.
She’s praying, thanking God for each of the babies He has chosen to be with her this year.
She’s praying that God guides her to meet each of their individual needs.
She’s praying that God shows His love to each of these babies through her.
She’s praying for strength, patience and understanding through all the days to come.
She’s praying she’s able to give them a safe, loving and comfortable environment throughout the time they spend with her.
She’s praying that over the next year she is able to make a difference in each of their lives.
She’s praying that she is able to teach them more than just the curriculum … kindness, love, responsibility and how to be a good person.
She’s praying that when they go home each day, they know she cares and does what she does for them.
She’s praying God will lead her through the path He has chosen for her.
She’s praying for an amazing and successful 2022–2023 school year!
She is me! She is also many of my colleagues. She is many of the teachers in our country.
Regardless of your view/opinion of public school teachers, know that teachers do this job because we are called to do this job.
We do this job because we want to make a difference and because we want a better future for our children!
Jennifer Kalyn Akins
From the Twitterverse
Every time I preach I’m reminded what an incredible calling I have on my life. The older I get the more precious each opportunity to preach is to me. The older I get the more urgency I feel to make sure the gospel is presented. With aging, the weight becomes heavier, not lighter.
“Finding and funding ways for Southern Baptist congregations to work together to fulfill the Great Commission is the function of the Cooperative Program.” @alsbom
@SBCCP —One Sacred Effort #PartnersForTheGospel
Be brave today. You’re stronger than you know. You’re held safe in our great God’s mercy. He will be with you. Even if you can’t see the whole pathway forward, trust goodness is ahead. Just cling to His truth … and let God light the way step by step.
Ministry is great! Influence is great! Preaching is great! Leading is great! Growth is great! Strategy is great! Yet all of these make terrible gods. Jesus is better. Infinitely better.
“Science and technology can not change man’s basic nature. No amount of self-improvement or wishful thinking can change man’s basic nature. Only God — the One who created us — can re-create us.”
“If dependence upon God is your goal, then weakness is to your advantage.” —a great word from @jdgreear in a message to leaders from some extremely tough places around the world. It’s true no matter where you live.
I don’t know what God is doing but I do know what God has done! He was faithful then and I know He will be faithful now.
We get glory into our hearts by getting on our knees in prayer, putting His words on our lips.
Pursue your kids with a greater ferocity than you pursue a paycheck.
We can come to Christ in whatever state we’re in, and He will always be gracious. He fully knows us inside and out, yet He still loves us unconditionally!