In this episode:
What does it mean to give up our rights? And what would happen if we lived in such a way that we were conformed to the mindset of Jesus? This week, we consider how our actions could be the only indication that someone else might have of how a follower of Jesus might act and live.
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I had a blank slate in my podcast lineup, which usually means a spot for me to share what’s on my mind. Often that’s inspired by current events. The other night, I woke up at 4 am and couldn’t fall back asleep. I was in that weird middle area where I’m not really sleeping, but yet I’m kind of sleeping.
During those early hours of the morning, I was half dreaming that I was working on a podcast episode. I was typing out the outline and wrote the title. I was getting ready to record it when I woke up. Since then, it’s been on my mind for a few days. It all started from what I’ve been reading lately, and when my data processing brain takes that input and mixes it with the input of social media and news, I end up with 4 am thinking sessions, I guess!
I’ve been studying a textbook with a couple of friends and talking about what it means to live conformed to Jesus’s mindset. The book is based on the writings of the apostle Paul in the New Testament of the Bible. I’ll link to the book below.
As I think about a repurposed life, I can definitely say that I’m not the same person I was ten years ago. Maybe even five years ago. And that brings me to today’s topic.
I’m giving up my rights.
Whoa, you say. What does that mean? There have been so many critical posts on social media directed toward people who have chosen to take one position or another that sacrifices something for the sake of other people. And the comments I see have to do with accusing those people of laying down their American rights, as if they were cowards for not standing up and defying whatever the request was.
I’m intentionally steering away from any specific issue right now, because that isn’t the point of this. The point is, what does it mean to give up our rights, and is it truly unAmerican to do so? Am I called to hold my ground at all costs because it opens the door for a hostile takeover of my freedom? Or is there another script?
I’ve wrestled with it, and come to a conclusion that isn’t all that popular. But I’m ok with being a weirdo.
I believe that the only way to wake up Jesus’s followers and make a difference is to change our mindset. And the only way for that to happen might be to get us out of comfort zones and launched into a situation where we’re pushed into action. What is action? Loving people.
Let’s talk about what it might look like to be repurposed to love people.
I happen to believe that unfavorable circumstances are what cause us to wake up and change. Here’s a question I’d like to pose: if those in government are favorable to a Christian point of view, does it help or hurt the cause of Christ in the long run?
It isn’t as obvious as we might think. When the governing leaders are favorable to a Christian point of view, it seems as if Christians sit back and wait for the government to take care of everything. To take care of people. To set policies that align with the Bible. But we get lazy.
The conversations and passion start to center around political issues instead of around biblical ones, and we lose sight of what it means to live like Jesus.
The point of a lot of Paul’s writing in the New Testament letters was that we give up what is rightfully ours in favor of benefiting someone else. Here are some of Paul’s examples:
- He gave up certain foods when eating with some groups of people so he wouldn’t make it difficult for them.
- He renounced his right to financial support so it wouldn’t burden others.
- He gave up his rights to status.
- He gave up some of his freedom and ended up in prison.
- He couldn’t separate love from faith, so he conducted himself with love.
- He encouraged others and built them up.
- He didn’t seek retaliation, even when it was due.
- He focused on others more than self.
- He suffered hardship emotionally, financially, physically, and spiritually for the sake of others.
Paul sought the good of others first.
For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love. For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you are always biting and devouring one another, watch out! Beware of destroying one another. (Galatians 5:13–15)
I don’t want to preach a sermon, but stick with me. The idea of living in a way of giving up rights is a transformational way of thinking that can’t be discussed without some Scripture. When I think of it, there is nothing happening in our world right now that I could process without looking through the lens of Scripture. That’s just my worldview, and it should shape my actions, not just my opinions.
Now, I’m not giving up a paycheck, or giving away everything I own. And I’m not giving up my citizenship, but I am thinking more about what it means to give up some of my rights for the sake of benefiting someone else. When I think about what I say to someone else, how would that change if I filtered it through Romans 15?
We who are strong must be considerate of those who are sensitive about things like this. We must not just please ourselves. We should help others do what is right and build them up in the Lord. For even Christ didn’t live to please himself. As the Scriptures say, “The insults of those who insult you, O God, have fallen on me.” Such things were written in the Scriptures long ago to teach us. And the Scriptures give us hope and encouragement as we wait patiently for God’s promises to be fulfilled. May God, who gives this patience and encouragement, help you live in complete harmony with each other, as is fitting for followers of Christ Jesus. Then all of you can join together with one voice, giving praise and glory to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, accept each other just as Christ has accepted you so that God will be given glory. (Romans 15:1–7)
How’s that for some heavy stuff to process in the middle of the night when I’m dreaming about writing a podcast episode?
When I check my attitude in my discussions with my husband, with friends, or family, I have to ask if I’m motivated by love, or by claiming my rights?
Sheesh. That’s hard.
What we say and what we do is a representation of Jesus. If my actions don’t model his, then it isn’t only my message that’s destroyed; it’s HIS message. Who wants to follow Jesus if his followers read God’s word and toss it aside?
My attitudes are not Christlike many days. I want to claim my rights and defend my choices. Can we find any defense for hatred? For speaking with unkindness? For calling names? There is absolutely no context where anyone who claims to follow Jesus could justify the use of meanness or name-calling. No matter how bad we think someone else is.
Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose. Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.
Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross. Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:1–11)
Who will bow at the name of Jesus because of my actions, speech, written word? It’s painful to know there will be some who will run away from Jesus because of my actions.
A repurposed life is one that demonstrates the attitude of Christ. Even toward people who we see as enemies.
Will you join me in giving up our rights for the sake of others?
I mentioned the book that I’ve been studying with friends. It’s a textbook by college professor Michael Gorman and it’s called Cruciformity: Paul’s Narrative Spirituality of the Cross.
This book uses a term the author and other writers have used to explain the idea of living conformed to or shaped by the crucified Christ. Conformed to the mindset of Jesus, as modeled by Paul. It’s a heavy read, but if you really want to get into a study of what the whole concept means, it’s an excellent resource that shakes up some of the way I have always thought about things.
Next week, I have two guests on the show to talk about reconciling mother and daughter relationships. Some of the same principles about giving up our rights apply there.
Speaking of relationships, before you go, have you picked up a copy of my new book yet? It’s called Classic Marriage: Staying in Love as Your Odometer Climbs. In it, my husband and I share our story along with helpful tips for staying married for the long haul. Well, I share the ideas and Phil provides his own commentary, which I think you’ll find entertaining.
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(Please note: books posted here on my blog are purely because I want to share them. Sometimes I receive free copies for review, and other times I purchase the books. Some I get from the library. Either way, any endorsement I offer here on the blog is simply because I want to talk about the book. ) *This post contains affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, if you click through and make a purchase, I may receive a commission. I sell my ebook via Amazon but I’m also a part of their “Associates” (i.e. affiliate) program which pays a commission on books and any other Amazon products people purchase via my links.
Michelle Rayburn is the author of The Repurposed and Upcycled Life: When God Turns Trash to Treasure, as well as a small group Bible study to accompany the book. Learn more about these and her other books here. A sample chapter of the book and Bible study are available for free download.
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This post contains affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, if you click through and make a purchase, I may receive a commission. I sell my ebook via Amazon but I’m also a part of their “Associates” (i.e. affiliate) program which pays a commission on books and any other Amazon products people purchase via my links.