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On Rights

We talk a lot about rights these days. Are they inalienable, can they be abridged, are they conditional, do they have limits? People fall along a spectrum ranging from absolute rights to those who recognize a right for one may not be a right for another. Therefore, rights have to be adjudicated to provide the best for the most. This follows the classic Greek model in which society strives for total good, highest good, and most good. Total good, admittedly, is not attainable this side of heaven, but, it seems that we could do a lot better than the “kinda good” we enjoy now. Groups enjoy unbridled rights while others suffer. This does not provide for the common good.

Where does the Scriptural Christian fit in? I am making the distinction “Scriptural Christian (SC),” frankly, because much of what I see in modern Christianity hardly resembles Jesus of Nazareth. Jingoism, xenophobia, and nationalism are so bound up on the pseudo-Christian narrative, that it’s hard to find other than a moralistic caricature of Jesus. For those who are SC, what about rights?

It seems to me that if Jesus is to be Lord of our Life, we give up our rights when we pledge our obeisance to him and to his kingdom. Does that mean we forfeit our civil rights? Absolutely not! Unless,….they run counter to the laws and values of the Kingdom of Heaven. In that case, civil rights are always penultimate to the kingdom. The only absolute law is “love.” The current debate over guns would do well to consider this. What course of action will provide the highest good? What course of action would more closely model the kingdom?

Yes, this is a minefield of competing claims and opinions. Yes, it’s messy. But, being in the messy middle is, well, messy. Where would God lead us in moving toward the total good? Where would God lead you? Ponder these things.

Sunday is Pentecost as we celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit and the birth of the Church. Under the guidance and power of the Holy Spirit, ordinary people did extraordinary things and changed the world. How about you?

See you Sunday,


To respond directly to Pastor Paul, email him at, or contact him at 816-724-0080

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