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Faith / Society

Does God Ensure our Human Rights?

Does God Ensure our Human Rights?

One good definition of human rights is, “opportunities and safeguards that ought to be available to all humans, simply by virtue of their being human.” Most people agree that all humans deserve the right to life, safety, and freedom; the right to food, shelter, clothing, and basic medical care; the right to basic education and to work; and the right to be treated justly before the law.

Rights among humans

Hopefully it’s no surprise that Christians generally agree that these rights are due to all people. All of these safeguards are good, and we owe it to our neighbors to respect them and to provide for their needs when necessary. It’s as simple as the Golden Rule: “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them” (Matthew 7:12).

God’s promises

God does not guarantee to us all those things we think of as human rights. We would love it if God promised we would never be hungry or thirsty or homeless or in danger of death. But we are his children, and that means that he gives us the dignity of allowing us to make our own choices (we call this free will). Sometimes our choices are good and beneficial to others, sometimes not.

Because we live together in community, one person’s choices can affect everybody else. Famine, injustice, homelessness and other great evils are all offshoots of our imperfection. Suffering stems not from God’s failure to provide, but from human sin and misdirection (not typically on the part of the ones suffering).

To those who trust in him, God has promised never to desert us or leave us alone (Hebrews 13:5). He has promised to be with us always, and to hear us when we cry out for help (Psalm 10:17Psalm 34:17). God has not promised to give us whatever we want, but he has promised that he cares about us (1 Peter 5:7), that he never forgets us (Isaiah 49:15), that he knows everything we need and takes care of us (Matthew 6:32-34), and that nothing can ultimately harm or destroy us, even death itself (John 11:25-26Romans 8:37-39).

But why doesn’t God…

But why doesn’t God enforce right choices? God allows us an astonishing amount of freedom—far more than most of us really want. God wants us to choose to love him and allow his holy spirit into our hearts; then he can guide us to make decisions for the good of ourselves and others. But sometimes we don’t ask for God’s direction and choose wrongly, and we violate other’s rights in the process.

What God did do

The Bible tells us that God has set Jesus against evil. Jesus is God himself who came down into this world. During his life of service, Jesus spent his time healing, teaching, listening, and caring. Then he laid down his human rights—to say nothing of his rights as God!—and allowed his own creation to put him to death.

All the evil of the world attacked Jesus and destroyed itself against him. But the worst it could do was to kill his earthly body; it could not keep him in the grave. Three days later Jesus rose from the dead, never to die again. Many people saw him, and he talked and ate with them. And he promises to share this same victory over evil and death with everyone who trusts in him.

What we ought to do

As Christians, we can do our best to follow Jesus’ perfect example. He calls us to lay down our rights to love and serve others. When we see pain, we should seek to heal. When we see hunger, we should provide food. When we see poverty, we should give. When we see injustice, we should speak out against it. When we see need of any kind, it’s in our royal bloodline as Christ’s children to sacrifice in this way.

But we cannot achieve these lofty and noble goals by our own merit. We can try, but we’ll likely get burned out or embittered by the vastness of despair in the world. If we want to do that kind of “Jesus work,” we need the mighty power of the holy spirit to enliven our hearts and open our eyes and our minds. Then we can see what he is calling each of us to do for his people for the benefit of his kingdom. If it’s in his will, he’ll give us the fortitude to do it. And all we need to do is ask.


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Pieces by THRED are collaborative works produced or managed by our in-house team. Not all of these pieces take a stance, but when they do, you can take it as THRED's position on the issue.

1 Comment

  1. this is realy good.

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