My hands gripped the steering wheel, as the initial shock of the impact subsided. I watched a small crowd of curious bystanders gather on the sidewalk and heard a faint hissing sound from somewhere underneath my car. I was in a foreign country and had just been T-boned.
I’d maneuvered down this narrow lane hundreds of times. In a city of over two million residents, I had routinely chosen this road — barely wide enough to accommodate my small car — as my daily route. This former rice paddy trail afforded direct access to the international school where my daughters attended. Because it was one-way, this street remained less congested than others, an important factor considering the myriads of cars tangled in knots at other intersections.
At least I wasn’t the one who had run the stop sign. I had the right of way and had been driving the speed limit. It wasn’t my fault.
Or so I assumed.
A week or so later, we got the news: although both drivers had insurance, I would be responsible for my own repairs. The reasoning? It was 50% my fault. Why? “If the foreigner had been in her home country where she belonged, this wouldn’t have happened.”
I confess I was incensed. In fact, I expended weeks of emotional energy demanding privileges that were not actually mine by law. After I reluctantly paid the damages and my anger finally subsided, I realized that mandates from my home country weren’t a given in this adopted country. Foreigners living abroad did not always have the same rights as local residents.
Over twenty years after this incident, I’ve discovered there is only one passport whose legalities transcend all nationalities. Regarding of locale, holders of this citizenship have standardized legal sanctions. (What a relief to this bullheaded Texan!) Although I am a “stranger and alien” of this world, God has given His children rights to a Kingdom from which we cannot be shaken (Hebrews 11:13; John 1:12; Hebrews 12:28).
When I lived abroad, I wanted to exercise privileges I did not possess. If my rights were so important to me then, why do I not take advantage of the heavenly benefits afforded to me now? Why do I spend so little time familiarizing myself with my Kingdom rights?
The feisty widow in Jesus’ prayer parable knew her rights. “Give me legal protection from my opponent,” she demanded (Luke 18:3). Do I know what mine are?
Explore with me just a few of our Kingdom rights as children of the Most High.
These and so many more rights are ours as we embrace our heavenly citizenship. In fact as we read through our Kingdom “constitution,” we find that “as many as may be the promises of God, in Him they are yes!” (2 Corinthians 1:20) Why then do we squander so great a prerogative?
What rights will you claim today?
“For it is just like a man about to go on a journey, who called his own slaves and entrusted his possessions to them” (Matthew 25:14).
Jesus is away on His journey. He has journeyed back into the heavenlies to prepare a place for you and I (John 14:3). He has freed us from sin and made us His holy slaves to righteousness (Romans 6:18). His work is finished (John 19:30).
The question remains with us. Not so much in how we will accomplish the work He has given us, but in how we will view Him. It’s all a matter of perspective.
We, like the slaves in the parable of the talents, have a choice. On the one hand, we can put Jesus first and allow the truth of His character to influence our outlook (Matthew 6:33). We can see Him face to face, just as He is, and be empowered to go boldly before His throne to pick up everything He has prepared that we need for life and godliness (Hebrews 4:16; 2 Peter 1:3). With little or much we proclaim, “Master! You have entrusted great things to me” (Matthew 25:20,22)!
But when the earthly skews our outlook, we waste not only His heavenly resources, but the glory of Who He is. We are like men who wear mirrored glasses inside-out, smearing Christ’s image into our own blurred reflection. Early twentieth century commentator H. M. Spence explains, “Thus men regard God, not as He is but according to their own perverted views; they read their own character into their conception of Him.” With the third slave we grumble, “Master, I knew you to be a hard man” and thus I have a disappointing life (Matthew 25:24).
Notice, in both situations, the Master remains the same. He is the Comforter (John 16:7), the Good Shepherd (John 10:11), and our Advocate with the Father (1 John 2:1). Yet what we believe about Him determines our degree of freedom. Faith must not only believe that He is, but that He actually rewards those who seek Him (Hebrews 11:6).
When our view of Him is filtered through the lens of self, His image remains distorted. Our doubt distances His power, despite the fact that He is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:5).
“We know that, when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is” (1 John 3:2). He has appeared. May we see Him exactly as He is.