Celebration of Human Rights: The Right to Know God as Father - 14 May 2019

Louise Gevers

“Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” John 1:12-13

Formal recognition of human rights to protect people in society has been apparent at various times in history; the Ten Commandments, the Magna Carta, the U.N.’s adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the writing of various Constitutions, are a few examples. Since 1994, South Africa has celebrated a Constitution that endorses equal rights for all its people, and instituted Human Rights Day to foster awareness of the importance of a society free from discrimination.

Does this mean that everybody now lives peacefully together, upholding each other’s rights? Not necessarily, but it paves the way for right thinking to achieve this. The best Constitution is only as good as the will of the people administering it. Structures may be put in place, but human action determines their success or failure. In faith issues this also applies. God gave the Ten Commandments to His people as a basic guide, and later supplied a full set of laws relating to all the moral, physical and spiritual aspects of their lives; but the people actions determined the outcome.

Micah’s words aptly summarise God’s expectations of righteous living in mankind: “He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8)

God cares about how people relate to Him and each other. When we really, “love (our) neighbour as (ourselves)” (Luke 10:27) we never harm him but treat him with the dignity we would expect ourselves; that’s fair. We forgive him when he wrongs us because we would appreciate him forgiving us if we were in his shoes; that’s compassion. If we achieve this, we’re learning humility. When we ignore God and disregard His law, we lose touch with our own humanity and our fellowman suffers.

 Jesus’ coming into the world showed another dimension to God’s caring: where we spend eternity is just as important to Him as our wellbeing on earth. Jesus died to atone for the sin of the world, which opened the Kingdom of Heaven to everyone who believed in Him. We have the right to choose.

 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) By believing in Jesus, God has given every person in the world the right to become His child and be part of His family. Imagine the implications of this in the world’s terms: God by far outclasses any emperor, monarch or mogul and offers us something that no money can buy. Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes in him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.” (John 5:24)

Prayer: Gracious Father, we joyfully celebrate the rights that You confer on us that are unsurpassed in this world, and we rejoice that “your throne will last for ever and ever; a sceptre of justice … the sceptre of your kingdom.” (Psalm 45:6) Amen

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