Looking back on 2018, I’d say one of its features has been an advancement in the area of “rights”. I won’t go into the politics of it, but the legalization of marijuana — without any more meaningful consultation than the annual 4/20 gatherings in major cities — is one area that comes to mind.
You can probably think of other such areas, but in contrast to the civil rights movement of the 60s, when the issue was an end to discrimination based on skin colour, the “rights” being claimed are very self-focused — more along the lines of “I’ll do me – you do you, so long as I’m not offended”.
It makes one wonder: isn’t what God has given us good enough?
In Jesus Christ, we have an amazing amount of freedom, especially the most important freedoms of all, namely, freedom from fear, freedom from death, freedom from our past, and freedom to have all the things God wants for us, including love, health and prosperity, even as our soul prospers (3 John 1:2). There are things God tells us we should not do, if we want life, and things He says we shall do (or not do), when we are in a relationship with Him – things I believe are indications of that relationship rather than keys to the relationship itself. But all in all, the freedom God gives us is greater and richer than anything we could ever imagine.
But as humans, we demand more.
In one of his many conversations with God during the trek from Egypt to the Promised Land, Moses cries out to the Lord,
“Where am I to get meat to give to all these people? For they weep all over me, saying, ‘Give us meat, that we may eat.’ ….”
(God replies) “Then you shall say to the people, ‘Consecrate yourselves for tomorrow, and you shall eat meat; for you have wept in the hearing of the LORD, saying, “Who will give us meat to eat? For it was well with us in Egypt.” Therefore the LORD will give you meat, and you shall eat. You shall eat, not one day, nor two days, nor five days, nor ten days, nor twenty days, but for a whole month, until it comes out of your nostrils and becomes loathsome to you, because you have despised the LORD who is among you, and have wept before Him, saying, “Why did we ever come up out of Egypt?” ’ ”
Now a wind went out from the LORD, and it brought quail from the sea and left them fluttering near the camp, about a day’s journey on this side and about a day’s journey on the other side, all around the camp, and about two cubits above the surface of the ground.
And the people stayed up all that day, all night, and all the next day, and gathered the quail (he who gathered least gathered ten homers); and they spread them out for themselves all around the camp.
But while the meat was still between their teeth, before it was chewed, the wrath of the LORD was aroused against the people, and the LORD struck the people with a very great plague.
So he called the name of that place Kibroth Hattaavah [“Graves of Craving”], because there they buried the people who had yielded to craving.
— Numbers 11:13; 18-20; 31-34
Are not the “rights” and “freedoms” people are demanding and receiving these days the result of cravings?
Is our world any better off for people being granted these freedoms? Look around: is our society not angrier and more discontented than ever, with people on one side constantly on-guard to protect their individual freedoms and call out anyone who offends them?
God had been providing quails in the evening for the Hebrews in the wilderness, but that wasn’t good enough for them: so He gave them so many quails to eat, that they choked to death on them.
God has given us true liberty, and in Christ, freedom from the chains of trying to make and live by our own rules. That liberty came at a price: in 2019, let’s take some time to consider the price and be content with what it bought us.