“Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”

This is a phrase from our Constitution. The purpose of its inclusion in the Constitution is to assure every United States’ citizen that they have certain “rights” that cannot be violated.

I’m grateful for these rights. I appreciate those who have fought for our freedoms and given voice to those who weren’t granted equal rights. However, over the past decade or so, as I’ve become a more devoted follower of Jesus, I’ve become conflicted as to my own entitlement to these rights.

Let me explain. As an American, the Constitution guarantees my “rights”. But when I made a choice to become a follower of Jesus, I became a servant, and therefore, willingly gave up these “rights”. Therein lies the conflict for me.

The Apostle Paul said, “I die daily.”

Jesus said, “whoever wants to be great MUST become a servant” (not “should”, but MUST).

Jesus said, “I lay down my life.” He did this voluntarily!

How do you feel like your rights are infringed upon today?

Politically? “I have no voice! I’m not represented!”

People on one side claim, “It’s through gun-control laws!” People on the other side say, “It’s through anti-abortion laws!”

Many say their rights are being infringed upon when it comes to religion and their right to pray or worship.

What does God want from me when my rights are violated?

I think how we answer this question largely depends on how we see God. Is He truly sovereign? Or does He need my help, my protest, my social media posts to aid Him? To make sure I get what He has already promised me.

When I turned my back on the world and voluntarily decided to follow Jesus, I agreed to represent love, peace, mercy and many other admirable traits as I journey through life.

When I refuse to show mercy and offer second chances, I’m not living as Jesus lived. And many times, it’s because I am really defending something I chose to lay down-my rights.

Consider Isaiah 53:7, “He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.”

In the New Testament, we read that Jesus was spat upon and beaten. Who are we talking about? God in the flesh. The One who was there at Creation. If anyone can claim “rights”, shouldn’t it be the One who created it all?

He could have stopped the beatings. He could have summoned angels. He could have been king. But that wasn’t the plan. The plan was to enter the world and to live on mission to offer His life as a sacrifice.

And if I choose to follow Him, I am convinced that I must do the same - live on mission and offer my life as a sacrifice.

Not to carry the burden through life of standing up for my rights.

Joey Haynes is a follower of Jesus, married way out of his league, has two of the coolest children in the universe and is blessed to work with an amazing community of believers known as The Church at Rome.