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Summary: What rights do you have as a Christian?

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This week, we will focus on the cause of the offenses that bring us anger. And instead of looking outside of ourselves at the things that hurt us, we are going to do something different…we are going to look inside ourselves, and deal with the root of the problem.

1. Scripture

a. You may recall the Sermon on the Mount, the part where Jesus is telling his disciples that are aren’t to repay evil with evil (Mt 5:38-42).

b. "You have heard that it was said, `AN EYE FOR AN EYE, AND A TOOTH FOR A TOOTH.’ 39 "But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. 40 "If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also. 41 "Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two. 42 "Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you

c. I can imagine the crowd’s reaction to hearing Jesus say this.

i. “You’re crazy, Jesus! You mean I am supposed to let someone steal from me? Mug me? Borrow from me till I’m broke?”

ii. I wouldn’t be surprised to see people literally walk away from the crowd about this time in his sermon.

d. And I don’t think our modern day reaction would be any different. Think about how we respond to offense in our society.

i. If someone hits us, what do we do? In Texas, they shoot them.

ii. If someone sues us, we counter sue.

iii. If someone tries to beg from us, we turn our eyes away.

iv. If someone takes our turn at the stop sign we become agitated.

2. Violated Rights

a. Why do you think this is so?

i. It is because someone is violating our perceived rights.

b. What does it feel like to have someone violate what we feel are our rights?

i. We get angry.

1. Anger is produced in response to hurt, frustration and fear.

2. The goal of anger is reduce this pain you are feeling, so you won’t have to experience it again.

3. Unfortunately, our response to this need for reduction in our pain is to produce pain in someone else.

4. We explode with angry words.

5. We say things or do things to inflict a bit of the sting we are feeling.

6. Not necessarily intentionally, but nonetheless, we hurt others because we have been hurt.

7. Maybe it is to get some distance.

8. Maybe it is to protect ourselves.

9. Maybe it is to get revenge.

c. We feel hurt, offended or as if our rights have been stolen.

i. Americans are obsessed with the concept of individual rights.

1. Just look at the explosive growth of personal lawsuits.

ii. Listen to some of the things we say when we are pinched:

1. "I know my rights."

2. "Respect my rights."

3. "Give me my rights."

4. "Stop denying me my rights."

5. "I demand my rights."

6. "You have violated my rights!"

iii. As a people, we are preoccupied with the concept of individual rights.

1. That preoccupation often becomes an obsession.

2. It makes us selfish and self-centered.

3. It even says its okay to mistreat other people to acquire "my rights."

a. What happens when someone cuts in line in front of us? Look out for the fight!

iv. It is as if the inalienable “right to happiness” is in our constitution. You’ve heard of this right?

1. Actually, the “right to a pursuit of happiness” is in the Declaration of Independence .

2. We hold these rights sacred.

3. That is, they come from our Creator.

v. But there is an opposite principle at the heart of our faith, more essential than our external freedom.

1. Our American freedom has to do with what happens to us from the outside, in terms of laws, controls and constraints.

2. There is an opposite principle having to do with what happens inside our hearts.

a. This principle has to do with being willing to surrender our rights.

3. It is when we willingly surrendering our external rights that we find internal freedom.

4. Concern for rights may become a bondage.

5. Oddly enough, I believe the larger system of freedom (our national freedom) only works when the inside principle is at work of freely giving up our rights for the sake of others.

vi. A source of great sorrow to God is that inside the Church there is a strong sense of our rights as well.

1. We operate on a kind of Christian social contract.

2. I’ll do what I believe is my share, but you’ve got to do yours.

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