I ran across this "Weblog in Print" article by Ted Olsen in Christianity Today's current issue.

To disparage rights altogether would be to side with Esau in despising his rights as firstborn. And undervaluing rights has led to atrocities from Abu Ghraib to Auschwitz. But let's remember that we guarantee rights to guarantee our obligations. The gospel liberates individuals and repeatedly assures Christians that they're "joint heirs" with Christ, but it's not big on the rights of self-interest. We're heirs first of Christ's suffering. We're slaves of Christ, slaves of righteousness, and slaves to each other.
Biblical freedom is not the "rights" of American autonomy.

Olsen reminds us of Paul, who played the rights card when he needed to, but persistently referred to himself as a slave (the Greek word behind servant in these passages is doulos, which literally means slave, one who does not belong to himself) when writing to his brothers and sisters in Christ.

Reading the article, I was reminded of a song by Keith Green entitled Trials Turned to Gold in which he sings,

"He's brought me low so I could know the way to reach the heights.
To forsake my dreams, my self-esteem, and lay down all my rights."

I always thought Keith Green may have gone a little overboard with that couplet, but perhaps Paul would have agreed with him. This kind of talk certainly sounds alien in our distinctly rights-insistent culture.

Where do I stand? I think I find myself resisting Paul's setiment, "Though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all..." but only because of a stubborn tendency toward wanting things my way. It may not often work to my personal benefit to live out a preference for others, but my personal benefit was not something I was considering when I promised myself to the man of sorrows. There are times when I need to repeat the following, through clenched teeth: "You are not your own. You were bought with a price."

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