Wrong Rights

I LOVE peanut M&M’s. They bring delight to my tastebuds and they are colorful morsels of happiness. On a bad day, like tax preparation day, I have my yellow bag on standby.ūüėČ Now, I know they are not good for me. In fact, there have been articles written about the health hazards of eating to many. Occasionally, I have justified my indulgence by thinking, well, they have peanuts in them, and that’s a protein. Since protein is good for me, I can eat what I want. You could say, it is my right to eat peanut M&M’s, all day, every day, should I choose to.

The interesting thing about “rights” is they can be so very wrong. My body would revolt after awhile, if I chose only to partake in my little round, happy, chocolates. While they do contain ¬†protein, they also have lots of ingredients that I can’t even pronounce; some of which have been linked to cancer.ūüė≥ I’ve considered laying down my rights to M&M’s altogether because of the health risks, but I’m a work in progress. ūüėČ

In recent news and social media I have heard a lot about “rights”; women’s rights, immigrant rights, LGBT rights, African American rights, rights to guns, rights of free speech, rights to protest….the list goes on and on. Many of my Christian friends have participated in discussions about “rights”, which has caused me to pray and seek Jesus and His perspective.

In reality, there is a peanut of truth to the discussions about rights. ¬†These discussions are labeled as rights, but I think the desire behind the dialogue is more about value. ¬†Do we all have equal value? ¬†The answer is a resounding YES. ¬†Jesus is about equality of all people as evidenced in scripture, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”(Gal.3:28) Incidentally, this scripture isn’t absolving gender identity or the fact that we are born of different cultures. ¬†Rather, it is demonstrating that every life has equal worth, through Christ Jesus. ¬†He is the great equalizer. ¬†We don’t need anyone else to tell us we are valued in order for it to be true…it’s true because Jesus says so. No person or circumstance can lessen our value. ¬†Period.

Jesus also points out our equal need for a Savior. ¬†He openly admitted we all fall short of God’s glory and are in desperate need of His grace and forgiveness. Every person, including Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, need Him. ¬†Though they have differing views on political policies, they both equally need grace and forgiveness.

Honest dialogue about perceived inequality can be good and healing. ¬†However, there seems to be more behind some of the social media discussions of “rights”; ingredients that are unhealthy for the soul. ¬†There is an angry tone, a loathing, a disgust, an entitlement simmering that is damaging. ¬†There is one who comes to kill and steal away our joy…we have a real enemy, and it isn’t each other.

As a Jesus follower, it is my right and privilege, to lay my life down, pick up my cross and follow Jesus; loving God and loving people. ¬†His ways are often different than popular opinion…especially those displayed in the media. ¬†The news and much of social media has been offering up a lot of spiritual junk food. ¬†It’s of little value and we should be careful about absorbing to much of it. ¬†Allowing ourselves to get caught up in angry finger pointing, is like eating to many M&M’s….it tastes good in the moment but makes you feel awful after. There is no value to it, since it solves nothing, just fans the flames of anger and hostility.

Brothers and sisters of the faith, remember we no longer fight for our rights, but for God’s. We no longer live for us, but for Him and His plans. What ‘right’ do we have to anything? ¬†Is it possible for us to feel entitled to anything more ¬†when God has given us everything in Him? If anyone could have felt entitled, it should have been Jesus. ¬†Being the only perfect person to ever walk the earth, He had that right, but He waved His rights, out of His great love for us. Such humility and grace, I can hardly take it in.

I don’t even have the right to my next breath, unless He gives it to me. ¬†There is no guarantee of tomorrow, or even 10 minutes from now. ¬†Every moment we have on this lovely earth is a gift given from our Father above. ¬†Rather than investing our limited time on endless discussions about ‘rights’, what if we savored each moment, appreciating the people placed in our lives and enjoying our blessings?

Jesus is our model for living and He didn’t debate much, and rarely got angry; leading me to believe we get into the wrong kinds of discussions. ¬†As Jesus followers we need ¬†to be careful that our pride doesn’t swell, leading us to have an unhealthy perspective of “rights” and entitlement. ¬†We ought to get on our knees in prayer, seek Him and maintain a posture of surrender to His will. ¬†We are living ¬†in times that ¬†will challenge our faith like never before. ¬†Be leery of your own feelings which can lead to emotional outbursts; laying down your cross, and hurling stones at one another. Pick up your cross, and follow in His footsteps. He reached out to people in love, humility, grace and truth. If people throw stones at you for expressing love, in truth, He will be your shield and protector. Don’t be discouraged or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you. Keep looking in the mirror and asking God how you can be the best YOU for Jesus, then be the change you hope to see in the world. ¬† ¬†We are shining His light, and the enemy would love to snuff us out, giving the impression we are outdated and irrelevant. Don’t fall prey to the lies of the enemy.

Lets choose a healthier diet of “rights” by ¬†loving tirelessly, giving generously, and letting ¬†grace abound. Filter through the spiritually sick ingredients that are being force fed to us through news and social media, and check those ingredients with His word. If the ingredients don’t match scripture, don’t eat them! Throw them out and stand firm in His truth. Don’t look for a loophole, absorbing what is bad for your soul. Accepting what is popular and ‘feels good’ can be the path of least resistance, but there is NO growth in that. It’s just a diet of peanut M&M’s; slowly malnourishing¬†our spiritual health. ¬†Pretty soon, all the absorbed loopholes we’ve ingested cause our lights to dim, and we are no longer distinguishable to the world around us. ¬†Jesus stood out in a crowd.

We will all be accountable for what we did with Jesus. He laid down His very life for each of us….there is no greater love than His. No politician, no civil rights groups, no protestors, no sports figures, no celebrities, no peanut M&M’s will satisfy the hunger we have for true love, value, and justice. Jesus gives it freely and fully. ¬†He hands out healthy love by the bucketfuls, if we are open to receiving it. Recieve the free gift of His love daily and then give it out to those around you. ¬†Don’t get sidetracked by discussions meant to keep you on a merry-go-round to nowhere. ¬†Grab His hand And walk with Him, even though you will stand out and may get insulted or even assaulted. You no longer live for yourself, you live for Him. You can do ALL things through Him! ūüôŹ

John 15:13~Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
Gal 2:20~I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
Luke 9:23~Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.

Isaiah 41:40~So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

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People Pleasing Bites

Some people will love you.
Some people with think, eh, you’re ok.
Some people aren’t going to like you at all.
Just keep your eyes on Jesus. ~Margaret Adams

The people pleaser bug bit me long ago, maybe from birth. As far back as I can remember, I’ve aspired to have people, ALL people, like me. It’s an impossibility. I’ve learned the hard way, and yet, I still get bitten by it from time to time.

People pleasing leads down a yellow brick road with no end, just pitfalls, and greedy, flying monkeys that will pick away at your identity and joy. ūüôäūüėČ It’s the pursuit of making others happy by ‘giving in’ or laying down what we know to be true of ourselves. Approval seeking is expensive, costing us our own identities. It never feels quite right, but can temporarily relieve tension. When we pursue people’s wants over God’s desire for our lives, things get out of whack. The crazy thing is, we do it to ourselves, by excepting the spoken and unspoken demands of others.

This last year I felt the effects of being bitten by my desire to please some unsatisfied ‘friends’. I tried in a variety of ways to earn their approval, and each time, came up short, leaving me frustrated as it became clear there was no stopping their indifferent, lackluster responses. Instead of appreciation, they were quick to remind me of what I wasn’t doing right, what I ought to do more often, and in general, how I could be better….well, better for them. At some point I became aware, I was not meant to please them. Love them? Yes. Earn approval? No. After much prayer and seeking my own responsibility in the matter, I heard God telling me to get off this merry-go-round of approval seeking. Easier said than done for this devout pleaser, but oh so necessary for my own health. Once I hopped off the spinning wheel, I could move forward on the mission God had for me, a mission full of purpose, hope and joy.

Jesus calls us to love Him and love others, but never calls us to win the approval of others. The truth is, many hated Jesus, and He never felt the need to try and please them. He was clear about His mission and knew how He was to go about His journey. He did not cater to people’s demands, only to His Father’s will.

As we seek Jesus, we find Him, and He brings clarity to our own personal mission. He calls us to love honestly, extend lavish grace, forgive freely, and do nothing out of selfish ambition. It’s a tall order, but one we can improve upon as we draw near to Him daily. When we walk closely with Him, we learn when to say yes, and NO. No is not a bad word. It’s a healthy, life giving word, for those of us that struggle with bug bites of approval. While our “no’s” will offend people that want what they want, it is for their benefit as well as ours. Someone else is meant to meet their need….more than likely that person is Jesus.

God can only use us to our full potential as we embrace our identity in Him…not by being transformed by popular opinion. Just keep your eyes on Jesus. His opinion is all that matters. If you’re unclear about how He sees you, search the pages of His word, the Bible. He adores and delights in you. It’s all there throughout the pages of His life giving words. Discover what God is calling you to do and do it with all your heart, then ask God to spray you with people pleasing repellent. ūüėČ Just say no, in Jesus name. You can do ALL things through Him!

1Thess2:4~On the contrary, we speak as those approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please people but God, who tests our hearts.
Gal.1:10~Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.
Genesis1:31~God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.
Jer.29:11~¬†For I know the plans I have for you,‚ÄĚ declares the Lord, ‚Äúplans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.