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Here in Alabama, we have just completed another voting cycle. I know others keep readers abreast of the varying political views; that is not my purpose in this column.
However, one thing that seems to come up quite regularly during election cycles is the topic of people’s rights. Dependent on your political affiliation or areas of society that perk your attention, there are concerns about protecting, defending, or promoting certain groups of people’s rights.
The question I have for you today is, how many times do we discuss giving up our rights for the sake of others, even others who don’t deserve it? In a nation that claims to champion liberty and freedom, the idea of willingly giving up those freedoms seems antithetical. Many suggest we are supposed to fight for said freedoms and not allow others to take them from us.
However, we serve a Savior who did the exact opposite. Paul records a profound statement related to Jesus willingly giving up His rights for the sake of a sinful humanity to instruct followers of Jesus to do the same.
Philippians 2:3-7a records, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant…”
Although He had every right to as the Son of God, we serve a Savior who willingly gave up His seat in glory to become a servant. Jesus did not come to be served, but to sacrificially serve us.
He serves as the ultimate example of humility. And with Him serving as our perfect example, we are admonished to be willing to give of ourselves for the interests of others. This requires being concerned about the least, the left out and the lost, making our own freedoms the last and lowest priority.
How do we live this out? We follow Jesus’ example of humility and sacrifice by being humble servants ourselves. We are called to serve others even when the circumstances are inconvenient.
We should not only serve people whom we easily identify with, but those who are not like us at all. We don’t serve to meet our personal satisfaction, but serve when there is no recognition or satisfaction at all.
Most importantly, we are called to serve another to enable others, looking beyond our interests and seeking to fulfill theirs. This is what Jesus does for us. His earthly life and death gave life to those who were headed to certain death and destruction; He dies for the ungodly – those who don’t deserve eternal life.
He willingly took off his royal regalia, gave up His seat in the celestial realm, wrapped Himself in the flesh, and became a servant to dwell among sinful humanity, giving Himself as the ultimate sacrifice for the sins of the world – looking out for our interests beyond His own.
We enjoy many freedoms in this nation, some of which many feel are threatened by the policies of certain political parties or politicians. I will let other contributors have those discussions. My sentiment to you comes from the Christ of Calvary.
Does ambition or the allure of freedom drive your actions and attitudes? As believers, we are called, even though we are set free, to willingly give up our personal rights for the betterment of others, with humility, knowing that Christ has done the same for us.
When so many people are talking about maintaining their rights, I pray for more believers who willingly give of themselves for the sake of others.
Christopher M. Todd is a Coosa County resident and the pastor of The New Home Missionary Baptist Church near Rockford.