We live in a world obsessed with personal rights. The recent political manuverings in Washington highlight a popular worldview that everyone has extensive rights, including health care. Many wonder, how far do personal rights extend? However, it’s nothing new. It’s been with us since the curse.
Yet there was One Man who lived very differently. We read in Philippians 2:6-8 that when Christ came to our world from the Father, he set aside his rights as God to fully incarnate into humanity. The Apostle Paul tells us that Christ, though God Himself, gave up his rights to live like, look like and be treated like God.
Imagine a king leaving the glorious and lavish environs of his palace to live among the poorest of the poor in his kingdom. But not just for a night (as if a publicity stunt), rather for years. Regardless of the squallor in which he lives, where he lays his head or stale bread he feasts upon, the fact remains he is still king. Christ, the King of Kings, did just that – He left his glorious, righteous throne and laid aside his rights to live as God.
What if you were to wake up tomorrow and be summoned to court only to learn that due to enormous debt you are now a slave of your creditors – for the rest of your life! You no longer have personal rights – where to live, what to do for a career, ownership of personal property, access to a bank account, or anything that is yours. You are now the one that is owned. A bit frightening isn’t it? The prophet Isaiah foretold the Christ would not have any form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. Christ stepped in humanity not as a nobleman or into a well to do family, but as a lowly slave. He gave up his rights to look like God.
To leave your rightful throne and live like a common slave is one thing . To do so to sacrifice your life for wretched lost mankind is completely something different. Scripture tells us that he humbled himself to the point of death on a cross. The final hours of Christ leading up to the crucifixion was perhaps that most humiliating and excruciating experience anyone could ever face. The betrayal, false trials, cruel beatings, mockings and jeerings would crush any man. Yet Christ endured them all to rescue you and me. He gave up his rights to be treated like God.
What’s more amazing is that Christ gave up his these rights so that you and I would gain one of the greatest rights known to man. In John 1:12, we read these priceless words, “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.”
He gave up his rights so we could have the right to call heaven our eternal home.
Thank God for the cross!
Thank God for the empty tomb!
Thank God he gave up his rights to rescue us.