We are often proud of our country because of the liberties it offers. These liberties are mainly associated with the rights and protections incorporated by or read into the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution. Although the concept of personal liberties is found in Bible, as God values our right to a choose above all, where are the rights specifically protected by the Constitution in the Bible?
While God values our right to choose, it does not necessarily mean He agrees with our choices. Nor does this mean we will not reap the consequences of our bad choices. “I [God] call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live” (Deut. 30:19, NKJV).
Take for instance the constitutional right of women to be treated as men are treated in society. In the workplace for example (known as the right not to be discriminated against on the basis of gender or have equal protection under the law); and the right to marry, as discussed in the Supreme Court’s recent June 26, 2015 decision on gay marriage.
Are any such rights indeed in the Bible? Does God bestow upon me rights solely based on my status as a man, woman, black, white, single, married, divorced, citizen or non-citizen?
God grants no rights to anyone based on their status. “Then Peter opened his mouth and said: ‘In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality [or God is no respecter of persons, KJV]’”Acts 10:34, NKJV; see also Rom. 2:11).
Paul confirms this in Gal. 3:28, “[T]here is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (NKJV).
In other words, God is concerned with only one thing when it comes to our status, whether we are in Jesus Christ. If we are in Jesus, we are all one, neither Jew nor Greek, neither slave nor free or neither male nor female.
On the other hand, if we are outside of Jesus Christ, we are separated from God and our sin remains with us, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23, NKJV; see also Ez. 3:18-20; 18:20).
If God granted rights to persons solely based on their gender, race, ethnicity or other status, He would be necessarily discriminating against others who may not have the qualifying status. This is especially true as we have little or no control over our status attributes. For instance, I had no say over my gender or the color of my skin.
Consider this simple example of a man and woman applying for the same job. The man may be more qualified in education and experience than the woman, but the employer might hire the woman because of her gender.
While it's honorable for the employer to seek to reverse gender inequality in the workplace, the employer is inescapably discriminating against the man, merely based on the fact that he is not a woman.
More, when granting rights solely based on status, and not on merit, those who are qualified based on merit are also in danger of discrimination.
By ignoring merit and granting employment solely based on status, the employer is punishing someone else, the man in the above example, for not having the favored status.
This is why God makes decisions on merit and not on status.
And, His decisions are based on His merit and not on my merit. It is only His merit that counts, namely, whether I am in Jesus Christ.
This leads us to one more question: Does my gender, race, ethnicity or other status entitle me to any rights in Jesus Christ?
The Bible is clear. It is impossible for my gender, race, ethnicity or other status to entitle me to anything when I am in Jesus Christ. When in Jesus, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Gal. 2:20, NKJV).
When in Jesus then, it is not I who live any longer. It is Jesus Who lives in me. If Jesus is indeed living in me, it is impossible for me to be seeking or asserting anything, much less rights that belong to me.
Moreover, when in Jesus, we receive the mind of Christ. “But we have the mind of Christ” (1 Cor. 2:16b, NKJV; see also Phil. 2:5). Ellen White said with the mind of Christ “the natural inclinations are softened and subdued. New thoughts, new feelings, new motives, are implanted. A new standard of character is set up--the life of Christ” (Christ Object Lesson 98).
As a result, when we are in Jesus, it is His thoughts, His feelings and His motives that govern the mind. Thus, if I am seeking rights based on my status, it is really I who live in me and not Jesus.
Being in Jesus then contradicts our entitlement to any rights, whether they are based on status or otherwise.
Consider that even salvation, the right granted to those who are in Jesus, does not belong to us. “After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number . . . standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes . . . and crying out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!’” (Rev. 7:9-10, NKJV).
Note also how God’s end-time people are described just before Jesus returns: “Then I looked, and behold, a Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His Father’s name written on their foreheads... These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes” (Rev. 14:1, 4, NKJV).
When in Jesus then, our thoughts, our feelings and our motives are those of Jesus, thus leading us to follow Him wherever He goes.
This does not mean that we are pre-programmed or brain-washed to do someone else’s bidding, without a right to choose.
Conversely, as slaves to sin, our only place of liberty in choice is in Jesus, having His mind, His character and perspective on sin. Our only escape from the chains of sin is in Jesus. He is our only hope to be free indeed. For “if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed” (John 8:36, NKJV).
Only in Jesus we can be free from the slavery of our utter selfishness and disregard for others and their salvation. “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. (Matt. 16:24b, NKJV).
Denying oneself is diametrically opposed to the assertion of oneself, whether it be in rights, status or otherwise. The way to heaven is in the submission of our rights rather than in the assertion of our rights. Jesus established only one way to heaven and that way does not include me, my will or my rights.
When in Jesus, it is not about our rights with others. Rather, it is about others’ right to salvation. As God came in Jesus to seek and save the lost, setting aside all His rights, we are called to do the same.
When in Jesus, we have surrendered all our rights. We no longer assert any rights for ourselves. With the motives of Jesus, we no longer live for self. We live for the glory of God and others’ salvation.