Christopher B. Harbin
1st Corinthians 9:15-23
Our national discourse gives much attention to issues of rights and freedoms. We talk openly of a right to bear arms, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of the press, and related issues enshrined in our Declaration of Independence. There we read of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness as basic building blocks for a society. Somewhere in the mix, we add questions of economics, mobility, health, education, conscience, and charting the courses of our own lives. In discussing rights, we may overlook issues of responsibilities placed upon us by government or gospel. How does the gospel of Christ relate to our concern with personal rights? What role should it play in our discussions?
Concerns with personal rights was just one more issue surfacing in the church of Corinth. Among all the factious issues at hand, perhaps this one cut to the heart of the church conflict more than any other. When the believers in Corinth assessed rights, they placed themselves in first and primary position. They considered themselves as deserving and paid much less attention to others or the needs of the body as a whole. We are wont to discuss rights from a personal standing, whereas, that might not be the healthiest of positions from which to discuss them.
Disney's Aladdin came out while Karen and I served as your missionaries in Mexico. Her aunt mailed us a copy while we were there. We were amazed at so many nuances of American culture that Robin Williams embedded in the animated film, little references we could not grasp after having been out of the US for just one year. There were other issues the film tackled, however, that were timeless and unbound to questions of cultural literacy. At one point, Aladdin finds his rights and desires in conflict with following through on a promise and the need to place a higher good above his own.
Rights, responsibilities, personal desires, and ethics ...
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