Saturday, March 12, 2011

I Have a Right to What? Ranting again

Is it just me or has anyone else noticed the number of advertisements that declare that “It is your right to. . .fill in the blank with the appropriate product here.” ? I ask because I am having this visceral reaction to them, they just make me want to throw something through the television. For those of you who have never experienced an “Emily Rant” you might want to skip this post altogether, it’s not going to be pretty, but at the very least, brace yourself.

I do not have a right to affordable phone service, white teeth, affordable healthcare, or luxurious pet grooming. I don’t. I just simply do not have those rights, because they are not rights. They are, and I hate to be the one to break it to you, privileges. Privileges that are earned or bestowed, but not rights.

Are these good things that can be made available in a prosperous society? Absolutely. Are these things I desire to have or would hope that each and every individual should experience? Unquestionably. Are these things that I am willing to work for and pray for both for myself and others? Yes, yes, yes, but I cannot find anywhere in any shape where these things are my right, or anyone else’s.

A right is something to which we are entitled. And way too many of us believe that we entitled to way too many things, including driving too fast, the best of everything, and sublime happiness. Like God himself spoke and said that simply because we are we shall have. Funny, I don’t find that in my Bible.

What I do find are some pretty amazing promises, gifts of grace and love offered by a Father who desires to give good gifts to his children, even the undeserving ones. And if I read my Bible correctly, we are all undeserving. There is nothing I can do to merit his consideration of me, and nothing I can do to earn his the beauty he has poured out among us. And I am privileged to experience the expressions of love he offers.

We have got to get past this idea that we have a right to anything. Any of us drawing a breath could have just as easily been born in Rwanda where clean drinking water is a precious commodity. We could be living a life that is punctuated by gunfire, and marked in blood. We could have died as children in place where infants succumb to dehydration and diseases that have long been eradicated within our borders. We did nothing to merit the safety and riches, yes, I did say riches of our lives. We were very blessed to be born in place were such things as spray on tans and cable TV are considered ordinary expenses – necessities even to some.

Why do I say we have to get past this idea? Simple, it will destroy you. The moment you cross the line from believing that something is a gift to it being something you deserve, you have prepared a fertile place for resentment and bitterness to flourish. You will get so caught up in lamenting all the things that you can’t have or possess that you will never look to the needs that lie outside of your hurting pride. And eventually, this attitude will contaminate everything you touch including your relationship with God.

And lest anyone think I am going on about things I don’t understand, allow me to clarify. I can say this with impunity for I have lived there, and I know the crippling effects this mindset can have on us. How we will come to blame God for failing us when he has surrounded us with blessing after blessing.

We are special because we have been loved. I am amazing because the King has sent out an invitation to one such I and seated me at his table. I am brilliant and beautiful because he has chosen to array me in finery when I came to him in rags. I love because he taught me how. I can be loved because he who inspires love lives within me. I care for myself because I have become his home, and he deserves the best I can offer. I can enjoy the bounty of this life because it flows from his hands.

I accept his gifts not as rights that he must provide for me, but as reminders of his extravagance to one who deserves nothing from him. I am humbled that one so great would notice me, and lifted up because he raises me to my feet so that I may speak to him as a friend and daughter. It is not a right but a privilege lavish and heart stopping in grandeur. Reminding me at once of who I was apart from him, and who I am in him.

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