Should we fight for our rights…(face-mask edition)
You have heard a lot of talk as of late and I anticipate you will hear a lot more in the days ahead about our rights and our freedoms.
Again, a couple disclaimers –
1. I am writing to people that follow Jesus. I love people that don’t follow Jesus but I want to make clear that those that don’t follow Jesus yet can’t be expected to live into His ways. Yet those of us that do follow Jesus, we need to actively examine our lives and our ways to make sure they are in line with Jesus.
2. Also, I am not a constitutional expert. If you need one of those, check out Facebook, there is an abundance of them there.
One of the places I have seen this discussion starting to rise is around the issue of wearing/not wearing a face mask in public. I am writing this from the perspective of a person that follows Jesus. Therefore, it is worth saying very directly that I am writing with the foundational assertion that our allegiance to the things of God is greater than our allegiances of this earth (see Colossians 3:1-4). Therefore the higher allegiance influences the lesser. Does that make sense?
Thus, starting from the basis that our highest allegiance is to God and not anything else, what does God say about our how we exercise our rights?
Exhibit A: Jesus emptied himself of all of His rights for the sake of others.
See what Paul says in Philippians 2:1-5:
Therefore, if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort in love, any sharing in the Spirit, any sympathy, 2 complete my joy by thinking the same way, having the same love, being united, and agreeing with each other. 3 Don’t do anything for selfish purposes, but with humility think of others as better than yourselves. 4 Instead of each person watching out for their own good, watch out for what is better for others. 5 Adopt the attitude that was in Christ Jesus:
Paul states the command: do nothing out of selfish ambitions, but in humility think of others as better than ourselves. Our call is to watch out for what is better for others above even ourselves. Why? Because we are to adopt the attitude of Jesus. Paul continues:
6 Though he was in the form of God, he did not consider being equal with God something to exploit. 7 But he emptied himself by taking the form of a slave and by becoming like human beings.
When he found himself in the form of a human, 8 he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore, God highly honored him and gave him a name above all names, 10 so that at the name of Jesus everyone in heaven, on earth, and under the earth might bow 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.1
If Jesus was willing to lay down, empty and surrender his rights for the sake of others, how much more should we?
And this is what Paul is saying in the first part (verses 1-5) must be lived out in our lives is exactly how Jesus lived his life.
So if that is the way we are to live, it seems like making decisions about a face mask or about other things regarding our rights, become pretty obvious. We choose the way that is best for others, even if that means laying down our wants and even our freedom.
And yet, if we put out rights and freedoms of this world above that of God’s kingdom we get backwards really quickly. We start seeing our freedom and rights as the starting point and interpret our decisions about God’s word through the lens of maintaining our rights and freedom.
This becomes super dangerous and sideways when the rights of this world are held above allegiance to God’s kingdom. Double down on the danger when those that live in this manner view themselves and proclaim “I am living God’s way”.
Just for the record, this I believe is underneath and at the heart of much of our partisan-craziness. And I don’t need to address the partisan-craziness, but I do want to expose our faulty thinking when it comes to our allegiances and priorities.
It is in the disconnect and false and misplaced allegiances that our lives get sideways. And those outside the faith don’t understand Jesus when they see examples of those with misplaced allegiances. Misplaced allegiances distort people’s view of Jesus.
So when the face-mask issue comes to the head in the next few days, ask the question underneath the question:
Where is my primary allegiance when I a make this decision? Kingdom of God or the kingdom of this world?
And there will be many other “face-mask” like decisions in our lives – and we that learn from Jesus need to keep our allegiances straight.
Strength and courage,
1 Common English Bible. (2011). (Php 2:1–11). Nashville, TN: Common English Bible.