Right of Way

Once again our collective heart breaks for the loved ones and family of the most recent victims of the mass shooting in Orlando. Let us be clear that this act of violence was an act of hate and evil. God did not need nor cause this tragedy to happen. (I wrote about this a few years ago because of another, now becoming all too common, act of violence) This act of violence has us talking a lot about rights; “our” rights, “their”rights, “my” rights, which rights should be changed, which rights should stay the same, the requirements for having such rights, etc. Who has the Right of Way?

When the Bible talks about rights, it typically does so from the perspective of making sure the rights of the poor and oppressed are protected and rarely from the perspective of one’s own rights. Paul talks about his own personal rights…and laying them aside for the sake of the Gospel (1 Cor. 8:9; 9). The words used in the Greek and Hebrew for “rights” can also be used for words like: liberty, cause, authority, and power. Could it be that our right is to ensure the rights of others?

In John’s gospel Jesus describes himself as “the way” (John 14:6). A little later in the Book of Acts, the earliest Christians were said to be individuals who belonged to “the Way” (Acts 9:2).  Philippians 2 tells us that Jesus, being God and having all of the rights/authority/power/liberty that is God’s alone to have, set all of those rights aside to become like us. Is it possible that to be “people of the Way” we are called to lay aside our rights for the rights of those who are poor, oppressed, or persecuted?

I’m not sure there is any right of my own that should supersede the Right of the Way that Christ has given me to empty myself so I might have more of him. Christ has given me the right to fear not. Christ has given me the right to freely serve. Christ has given me the right to love all. These are the rights I must claim above all of my other rights. These are the Rights of the Way.