Oswald Chambers on Christian Rights


The Sermon on the Mount indicates that when we are on a mission for Jesus Christ, there is no time to stand up for ourselves. Jesus says, in effect, “Don’t worry about whether or not you are being treated justly.” Looking for justice is actually a sign that we have been diverted from our devotion to Him. Never look for justice in this world, but never cease to give it. If we look for justice, we will only begin to complain and to indulge ourselves in the discontent of self-pity, as if to say, “Why should I be treated like this?” If we are devoted to Jesus Christ, we have nothing to do with what we encounter, whether it is just or unjust. In essence, Jesus says, “Continue steadily on with what I have told you to do, and I will guard your life. If you try to guard it yourself, you remove yourself from My deliverance.” Even the most devout among us become atheistic in this regard—we do not believe Him. We put our common sense on the throne and then attach God’s name to it. We do lean on our own understanding, instead of trusting God with all our hearts (see Proverbs 3:5-6).

Our culture of self-interest has coined the catch-phrase, “Not my problem.” Chambers seems to agree with that sentiment, but in a somewhat different context. The cultural sense is self-centered, while for Christ-followers it is, or should be, God-centered.

Justice and fairness fall at the top of everyone’s personal priority list, as long as we are on their receiving end. Administering justice and fairness, however, typically falls somewhat lower on that list, even for Christ-followers.

Certain elements in God’s church concern themselves almost exclusively with their, “God-given rights,” and they’re prepared to defend them with their lives. They call themselves Patriots, meaning, “defenders of the Constitution,” or, “proud to be an American.” Many Christians equate patriotism with defending the faith, by force of arms if necessary.

Now, I may be nuts, but I can’t recall any New Testament command to take up arms in defense of Christ. In fact, Jesus said just the opposite:Matthew 26: 51 And behold, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his ear. 52 Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword.” And in Luke’s account, Jesus underscored his message of love by healing the man’s ear.

As Jesus usually spoke from the eternal perspective, I suspect he meant by “perish,” a far greater significance than mere physical death. Whether or not that is strictly true, we would likely profit by taking his words under advisement.

But, what of patriotic pride? As I’ve often said, “I” is at the center of pride, and sin. Personally, I’m immensely thankful for having been born in this country, but as I didn’t have much choice in my birthplace, I don’t have much ground for pride in that fact. Am I proud of America? You bet I am, to the extent that it seeks the high moral ground. Unfortunately, though, there hasn’t been much of that seeking lately.

As Christ-followers, we must maintain different priorities from those of the world. The prayer attributed to St. Francis has become almost cliché, but it accurately summarizes God’s expressed will for Christ-followers:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace, 
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy;

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; 
to be understood as to understand; 
to be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive; 
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; 
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

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