Should Christians Stand Up for Their Rights?

“Politics are tense these days. Have you noticed? Most of the tensions are centered around whether or not man has a “right” to something. It’s those decades-old arguments “We have a right to own guns!” “We have a right to have abortions!” “We have a right to free speech!” “We have a right to religious freedom!” and so on and so forth. These ideas are ingrained into Americans as immovable foundations of our society. American society and Christianity have been so closely woven together that even the Church expects to be granted “their rights.”  But are these Biblical? Should Christians stand up for their rights?

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness(the American Declaration of Independence). From little up, we Americans are taught this as basic truth. It definitely feels accurate, because we feel deeply wronged if our liberty is violated. These “rights” may be God given, but nowhere in Scripture do you find the idea that we ought to defend “our rights.” In fact, you find the exact opposite.

God gave the best example Himself. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is completely divine and entirely perfect. He created the world and is King over it, but in that crucial moment at the Cross when all of His rights as God and as man were being violated all He requested was forgiveness for humanity’s ignorance. He asks us to do the same. It’s true: God has endowed humanity with certain rights, but He asks us to lay down those rights in order to help others and show them that relationship with Jesus Christ, regardless of temporal circumstances, is the true path to Life, Liberty and even Happiness. Jesus Christ, not government. We cannot pick-up our crosses and our rights at the same time. To demand our rights of Life, Liberty, and Happiness…”

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Should Christians Stand Up for Their Rights?.

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It’s a Jesus Story

I honestly do not know what people will think of me after this post, because humans naturally tend to like super-people who serve God perfectly and hardly struggle [with real issues]. Sure, we talk about struggle, we admit to the general idea of failure in our past or present—but few ever publicly admit to the actual, specific, day-by-day struggles of ordinary people.

But the book of Revelation says that we conquer Satan by the Blood of the Lamb [Jesus] and the word of our testimony (Rev. 12:11). So here is my testimony.

First, I will give you a quick synopsis of my life:

Most people reading this probably know that I am a white, Mennonite kid, originally from Minnesota, whose family moved to Los Angeles, when I was twelve, to work for the Southern California district of Choice Books and to plant inner-city churches. Most people also know that my mother, my sister, and I were in a car accident which left my beautiful mother fatally injured and she died in the rescue helicopter moments after take-off. This was four days before my brother’s wedding, just four months ago.

So that is the synoptic of my life, now let me tell you my story. I do not write this because I love to spill my guts on the internet. I write this because Jesus has done a wonderful work in my life, and I have become convinced that not to share my story is denying Jesus’ redemption of my life. Jesus has given me a story, now it is my job to share it. I also share it because I think there are a lot of guys out there who need to hear others talk about their stories. I have nothing to hide. My story is true and my redemption is true, so why would I not tell it?

I “accepted Jesus into my heart” several times when I was young, the two most significant being at age seven and nine. Although I do believe I was sincere, I do not think I completely understood the entirety of who Jesus is. To me He was the God-Man in white clothes who died on the cross to save me from Hell. So I said a prayer in order to escape Hell and satisfy my conscience. I believe Jesus heard my childish prayer and set me on a journey to more fully understand who He is. Why? Because He loves me. Unfortunately, sometimes in the process of getting better, we become worse.

When I was eleven years old, I realized that I liked to lust. And in my foolish weakness, I chose to look at pornography. I cannot say that I just happened to fall into it; I chose to walk into it, and everything that comes with it. And I became a slave to it. I quietly worshiped and served the addiction for three years and was powerless to rid myself of its clutches.

It was during this time that my family moved to Los Angeles in April of 2008. Looking back with my limited perspective, our move was probably a life saver for me, but at the time I hated it. The year 2008, my twelfth year of life, was probably the darkest year I have ever lived. I believe even darker than the last four months. Then, I was a slave to sin (Satan); now, I am a slave to Christ (which is the most freeing situation in the whole world because His burden is light). My slavery, added with the intense loneliness I felt in L.A., affected my whole lifestyle and I quickly became a recluse who only desired to please myself.

All throughout these years, I knew I was not obeying God. I hated it and I pleaded with God to do a miracle and to give me courage to confess. But everyday I awoke and was forced to serve the master I had given myself to. I was living like God’s good son, but I was truly eating pig’s food (Luke 15:11-32).

On Christmas Eve, 2008, I and my parents had a conversation which ended in my recommitting my life to Christ, but I still did not confess my addiction. I sometimes question the sincerity of my experience, but that night marks a point in time when my life began to turn around.

The spring of 2009 was a huge leap for me. Back then, Choice Books sold the “Read the Bible in 90 Days” Bible. Being the type of person who likes a reading challenge, I attempted it. Those three months of ingesting God’s word did something that I cannot explain. It all culminated on June 27, 2009, when I wrote my Dad a letter which explained everything about me that I could think. After having him read it, I felt a relief that I will never forget. I believe it was then, at the moment when I released my idol, that Jesus was able to flood my soul with Himself. But I still had a long journey ahead of me. It took about another year before I was really free from the bonds of pornography—a year of surrendering to Jesus, and strong accountability to my parents. (Let me insert that I credit my parents trust in me as one of the greatest enablers in my surrender. They trusted me to surrender and make right choices.)

I still need to surrender to Jesus, I still have struggles and temptations of various sorts, and I am still a choice away from falling once again; but Christ’s grace is sufficient for me. I do not need to fear temptation or Satan. All I want now is to worship Jesus because He has freed me and justified me before the Father. He is my advocate and I am His child. I can come boldly before His throne and I can look to Him for strength. This is who I am. I have nothing to hide because Jesus has forgiven me of everything, and it is only because of His grace and strength that I can walk in victory today.

Jesus, I am grateful.

This is my story, my song. I hope that anyone reading this who struggles with sin in any way, will realize that they are not alone. I hope they will see that Jesus can save them and redeem them.

If you want peace with God—if you want freedom from sin, if you want the light of Christ in your life, if you want strength to walk through any trial—you must surrender to Jesus. Jesus wants to help you, because He loves you.

Half of surrender is realizing that without Jesus we are monsters but with Him we are weak sheep that need protecting and guiding. (And with Jesus protecting us, we are strong and safe.) The other half is just letting go of whatever is keeping us from worshiping Jesus.

We can either continue in what our flesh says is good or we can surrender to Jesus and His love. We can either worship Satan or we can worship Jesus. There are no other options. When we worship Satan, we become monsters; but when we surrender to Jesus and worship before His throne, we become His precious sheep—His beloved children.

I want to be a sheep, not a monster. What about you?

The avoidance of this topic bothers me. The fact that we act surprised when people confess to struggling with this issue, really bothers me. Anyone who is remotely engaged in western culture and knows anything about human nature should not be surprised. Look all around us. Immorality is everywhere. Let’s not close our eyes to it, let’s not plug our ears! Apart from Jesus Christ that is you, that is me. It’s in our neighborhoods, it’s in our governments, and it’s in our families and churches.

Struggles with sin cannot be legislated out of us. They cannot be pulled, pushed, or shoved out of our lives. We are who we are and we are completely unable to change. Do we get it? We or anyone else cannot change us. So let’s quit trying.

Enter Jesus Christ.

For our sin the just Father demands a payment [retribution]. Our sentence is eternity in hell. We cannot escape it; we cannot pay it off any other way. Yet, God loves us tremendously. So He became a human and lived a perfect life, therefore He had no sentence to hell. Having lived a perfect life He then offered His life as payment to the just Father. He shed His blood and paid hell for each of us. But God being pleased with the payment raised Jesus (the God-Man) up from the dead and set Him at His right hand in Heaven. We now have no sentencing. God is satisfied; we are justified. Jesus now invites us to relate directly with the Father because the Father no longer demands payment from us. All we have to do is surrender and say “Yes, Jesus, yes! I accept you as the payment for my own sin. I am at your mercy! I worship you! I am yours forever. Yes, Lord, I say yes!”

This is the Gospel. This is the power of salvation [from pornography, bitterness, rebellion, pride, and from every bondage of Satan].

One day, because Jesus has done all this for us, we are going to stand before God’s throne and out of perfect, eternal gratitude we will throw ourselves before the throne, caste our crowns [our rewards] at Christ’s feet and cry “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” (Revelation 5:12).

So what will it be, my friend? Is your temporary pleasure really worth what Jesus can give you eternally? I pray that you will surrender and abandon your earthly life, at the cross.

C.D.

Failure or Success?

“I think our entire culture suffers to hear, ‘I love you whether you succeed or not. Whether you’re productive or not. I just love you.’”

– Donald Miller

Success. We all want to be successful, right? Our brains are trained to think that unless we measure up to such-and-such a standard, we will not make it—we will have no value in the world. When a business man invests in a company, he expects good dividends in return. Why would it be any different for a human? When teachers invest time and energy, isn’t it expected that the pupil will grow up and give back to the teacher by benefiting society? If not, either the teacher or the student has failed. If what we invest in does not return benefits to us in any way, it is a failure and not worth our attention. We are Westerners we are born and bred to think this way.

So if Christians do not bear so-called “fruit” (whatever that may be), they are failures right?

Wrong!

“When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father” (John 15:8). This is a promise, not a command. If we are Christ’s disciples we WILL bear fruit.

We have a mindset that says if something is a “failure” [that which does not fulfill our human-defined measure of success] it is worthless. This mindset causes us to look for success in others and try to copy it and we are rarely able to do so. We work and work to try to “measure up” to the talents, abilities, or success of others but we can never do good enough. We constantly fail our expectations. Why? Because our standard is falsely based on other individuals’ success, instead of God’s truth.

God created each of us individually and set us on separate paths toward success. Yes, He desires and plans for us to be successful. But what is success? Success is doing what we are expected to do, fulfilling our purposes. If someone is a mail man and he carries mail from place to place, than he is fulfilling his purpose. He is successful.

God made us with a purpose. He originally planned and still plans for us to individually worship and commune with Him. That is what we see with Adam and Eve.

So we have a function—a purpose: God created us to individually worship and commune with Him. This is our goal. This is what we fix our lives on, to fulfill that purpose. Knowing this we no longer need to measure up to the external doings of other people. When we focus on worshiping God we no longer pursue being noticed, or having such-and-such grades, talents, or status. We only pursue Jesus.

So what is failure? It is not failing a test, not getting last place in a competition, not lacking knowledge or experience, not failing in evangelism, not lacking money, or not lacking talent musically, physically, or mentally. Failure is lacking a relationship with Jesus Christ the King of Kings, the Creator, the Lover, the Savior. Jesus said “Remain in me and I will remain in you, for a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me“ (John 15:4). God does not measure our “success” by what we do, but rather by who we are.

Read this carefully:

God created you to worship and commune with Him. When you are a child of God, you are walking a path of worship and communion with God. Therefore if you are a child of God, you are a success in God’s eyes. And when you continue to pursue Him and walk with Him and open up your heart to Him, He finds you more and more successful. No amount of success is too little or too great in His mind, because He loves you and He LOVES when you are successful. It thrills His heart.

Success is not something you can emulate—copy. It is personal and individual and can only happen when you are in Christ.

“If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9). Salvation is extremely simple, but it is the continued walk that can be hard. Do not worry about what you look like to other people. Focus on God. Discipleship cannot be faked, so don’t try to fake it. Just surrender EVERYTHING you have and are to Jesus—and He will do the rest. This is success.

C.D.

What Makes Me Angry Infuriates Me

I am angry. I am angry at the fact that thousands of people die every day and enter into an eternal state of complete separation from God. From God who is the source of all that is good. I am angry at the fact that slavery is still very much alive in our country and that my city is in the center of it all. I am angry that sin and immorality are rampant in the world. That people—even children!—all over the world are without clean water and humane living conditions.

That makes me angry, but what really infuriates me is that so many Christians are doing nothing about it. It infuriates me that the only thing many Christians think about is themselves. It infuriates me that many guys cannot reach beyond their own weaknesses. It infuriates me that many Christians are so self-conscious that they are not willing to abandon all to follow and obey Jesus. It infuriates me that Christian men tear families and churches apart because of their pitiful beliefs. It infuriates me that personal convictions have become a bigger issue than the Gospel. It infuriates me that godly people throw themselves into useless head-butting discussions on social networks knowing that their arguments will not change anybody. It infuriates me that Christians care more about their rights then they do about the souls of their fellow humans. It infuriates me that people are content with their shallow lives. It infuriates me that many people think rightly, but actually do very little.

It infuriates me that I see much of this attitude in myself.

So many Christians are chasing the wind. So many men think their only job on earth is to provide for their families and be comfortable, and so many young people are obsessed with their next date or party: all they think about is themselves. I wish I could ask them if they are really content with the shallowness of their lives? Don’t they want to make a difference in the world? To utterly spend their lives for Christ? Or is their selfish flesh and peer pressure so great that it keeps them from having any meaningful life at all?

It is easy to look at shallow people and judge them, but what about those who are religiously shallow? Do young people simply walk away from God? Or could it be that personal convictions and doctrines become too important and regulated that they strangle any life out of church? Are the particular beliefs people hold dear so important that they are willing to sacrifice the souls of young people, and the souls of those who have never even heard the Gospel?

I hope not.

The only thing that matters in life is that we have a relationship with Jesus Christ. Any conviction, any social work, any significant choice should be born out of that relationship. Jesus is the holy, perfect, just, loving King of the Universe. We are sinners completely lead astray and deserving of Hell. If we want a relationship with the perfect King, we, the very imperfect humans, must play by His rules. Let’s read the Bible and obey it! Let’s not try to reason it all out, legislate it, add to or subtract from it, just obey it. Let’s remember that Jesus is holy and perfect, but vehemently loves you and continually forgives you when you repent. Let’s remember that our purpose as Christians is to proclaim the Gospel. To do anything “Biblically” yet forsake the Gospel is worthless, but to proclaim the Gospel and forsake the Bible is like trying to run a business without money.

Let’s focus on Jesus. Just love and obey Him.

C.D.

What Would Jesus Do?

Wow, imagine this, Christopher Witmer is actually updating his WordPress! SURPRISE! Life has been good and God has been good, as always. That is the interesting thing about life, it can be either negative or positive, but when God is walking alongside, one can usually look back and say it was good.

I just recently ate my first full Chick-Fil-A meal on August 1st. (I wonder how many people remember the date of the first time they ate at a fast food restaurant . . .) I and the group I was with did it mainly to show support for the organization and its employees in light of the attacks they have come under from many who support gay rights.

I am intrigued by the modern discussion of homosexuality and the stark difference between the two worldviews. Unfortunately, both sides of the argument can sometimes come through very hostile to each other. As a Christian, I hope that I am known as a safe and accepting person to be around, even though I believe homosexuality is a sin, just as I believe adultery, period, is a sin (adultery including: sex before or outside of marriage, lust, et cetera). Many times the very thing these people are longing for is love and acceptance and the only place they can find that is in a perverted way of relating to each other. I find this very sad because what they truly long for is Jesus and His powerful love, but many Christians have turned them into a spiritual and political enemy, which is not giving them the love they need and desire.

We all want love. Love is an amazingly powerful force. When a person feels loved, he has a sense of worth and dignity; and he  can begin to see from the lovers point of view, and will listen to what the one showing the love has to say. God is not a heavy-handed old man sitting in a booth upstairs just waiting for us to make mistakes so He can call us out and punish us. Rather, He is compassionate and extremely long-suffering. He loves us with an everlasting love. Not a cheesy love, no, but a love that will change one’s life. It changed and is still changing–transforming–my life.

I wonder if maybe the reason it is so hard for Christians to demonstrate love is because we often do not fully realize the extent to which God loves us! How can one give what one does not have? The reality is that He loves us so much that He died to live inside of us! – Do not resist it! – But He is a holy and jealous God and we are completely sinful–there is no way for us to have fellowship with God and receive His love and blessing: except through Jesus Christ, glory hallelujah! God sent His own son, Jesus, to make a way for us to be connected to the Father who loves us.

Realize, Christian, that there is nothing that can separate you from God’s love, yet there is nothing “lovable” about you, and yet He loves you passionately. It’s called grace. It’s called amazing. Now live it. Show some love to your homosexual neighbor–it will probably change their life. . .and yours.

C. D.