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copyright-all-rights-reservedThis is one version of the “copyright” symbol. It affirms that unless you transfer one or more of them, you have exclusive rights to your own work: you and only you can grant permission for someone to copy your work. The copyright law applies until you voluntarily grant someone else permission to use your work.

As citizens of the United States, we have certain guaranteed rights.

“America’s founding fathers put it well: “all men are created equal . . . endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.” Such a statement accords well with Scripture. The Bible says that man is created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). Because of this, man has a certain dignity and was given dominion over the rest of creation (Genesis 1:26).”www.gotquestions.org/human-rights

The United Nations have adopted similar statements in their Declaration of Human Rights.

The laws that protect US Citizens only apply when you are within the country’s borders. Whenever I venture into a foreign country, I am no longer under the power and jurisdiction of the US Federal government. Therefore I forfeit some or all of my rights as a US citizen. The one exception would be inside the walls of a US embassy. If something were to happen to me overseas, say I was accused of smuggling and thrown in prison, the US government will attempt to negotiate for my release and support me in what limited manner they can, but they are hindered by the laws of that particular country. My protection, freedom, and rights are no longer the same outside the boundaries of my home country. I have voluntarily transferred my rights.

Here’s my point – Christians possess certain rights, but they also voluntarily transfer/give up some of their rights.

Philippians 3:20-21 (NIV)

20 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.

2 Corinthians 1:21-22 (NIV)

21 Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, 22 set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

Matthew 5:10 (NIV)

10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Our citizenship is not here, it is in heaven. When you become a Christian, you voluntarily give up your citizenship on earth. You transfer your rights to God where he reserves them in heaven. You now belong to him and live for him; you are under his protection and jurisdiction. However, while you possess all of the rights and benefits that heaven offers, you are not living in heaven…….. you are still in the world and the world is ruled by Satan….. for now. You are technically outside the boundaries of your country.

On a spiritual level, God is sovereign and ultimately everything is under his control and everything he does or allows works for our good. He is the king and we are his subjects and that cannot be changed. He has commanded us to pray for his will to be done on earth as it is in heaven, and he will help us maintain our faith. The fact remains, we are at war with the devil, a mean adversary, which most assuredly guarantees persecution and violation of our rights. Equally true, God has guaranteed that we will outduel or adversary. John 16:33

On a human level, God established laws in the Old Testament that protected the rights of the citizens of Israel. In Christ, those laws are now transferable to us. However, the emphasis of those laws is directed towards the protection of other human beings and the common good of the people, not personal interests. For example, scripture teaches you should not murder, you should not steal, you are to protect the widow and the orphan, care for the elderly. You are not to take advantage of a foreigner, discriminate or show favoritism, etc. All of those laws reflect God’s desire for us to put others ahead of ourselves, not focusing on personal entitlement.

Christianity is based on sacrifice, giving up what is yours for the benefit of someone else. Jesus was the ultimate example; he voluntarily gave up his rights so that he could ensure ours. We too have been given the mantra to lay down our lives, sacrificing our own will for the Father’s will and promoting the good of others. The beauty is that even though we give something up, we gain something far greater.

My mug is raised, how about yours? I thank God today for my rights as a citizen of heaven, remembering that there can be heaven on earth when God’s will is done.

All verse quotes courtesy of biblegateway.com