If you’re an American citizen, you probably know the three basic rights guaranteed in the Declaration of Independence. Maybe (like me) you’ve even had to memorize this for history class: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are LIFE, LIBERTY, and the PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS.” Okay, before you get bored with history and tune me out, think about this: God offered us these rights and so much more over two thousand years ago! Take a look.
God offers us LIFE. The Declaration of Independence guarantees that the government will protect our existence, but the Lord offers us so much more than that! On the one hand, being a Christian gives you a much fuller life on earth. If we let Him take control, God will give us freedoms that make life unimaginably wonderful (but I’m going to touch on that a little later). However, without God we’re spiritually dead in our sins, and only accepting His gift of life can fix that. Take a look at Ephesians 2:4-5. Paul writes, “But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ.” Not only this, but our Father offers us eternal life with Him if we obey Him. In Revelation 2:10, Jesus tells us, “Be faithful until death, and I will give you a crown of LIFE.” I don’t know about you, but I want that crown!
God offers us LIBERTY. Not only are we dead without God, but we’re also slaves: slaves to ourselves, slaves to our sinful nature, slaves to worldliness. The good news is that God wants nothing more than to set us free. I encourage you to go and read all of Romans 6, because it’s an extremely powerful chapter, but right here I’m just going to hit the high points. Check out verses 16-18: “Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness? But thanks be to God that though you were slaves to sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.” Unlike before, however, we’re not slaves against our will. James the Lord’s brother describes himself as a “bond-servant of God” at the beginning of his letter. A bond-servant was someone who willingly gave himself into another’s service. Plus, God promises us so much freedom. With Him, we can be free from worry (Matthew 6:25-34), and although we feel sorrow at sin, we can take hold of a “repentance without regret, leading to salvation” (2 Cor. 7:10). Slavery to God is no slavery at all; it’s unbeatable, indescribable freedom.
God offers us HAPPINESS. That’s right—not just the pursuit. Only in God can we find TRUE happiness. When you get the time, you ought to read the book of Ecclesiastes all the way through—it’s all about how Solomon looked for happiness in nearly every earthly pursuit you can think of, and just couldn’t find it. You might want to take a look at Psalm 1 too; again, I’m just going to hit high points here. This psalm talks about the blessings that come to one “whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on His law day and night. He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers.” Now, this doesn’t mean that we’ll get everything we want materially, but we will be successful spiritually, and that’s what brings us true happiness.
The thing about rights is that you don’t have to take advantage of them. Thousands upon thousands of people don’t take advantage of the freedom to worship God in this country. Some people don’t take advantage of the right to vote. That’s kind of the defining factor of a right: it’s a choice. Once it’s forced upon you, it’s tyranny instead of freedom.
It’s the same thing with God. He’s got a lot of wonderful rights to offer you, but in the end it’s your right. So what’re you going to choose?
Choose life. Choose liberty. Choose happiness.
By Melissa Hite
Melissa (age 16) attends Bear Valley church of Christ with her parents, Michael and Lynn, and her little brother, Matthew. Her goals include continually growing closer to God and eventually becoming a writer and a mom. On her blog, Christ Crossed My Heart, you can find other poignant, well-written posts.