When I was in the primary school, back in Korea, I was taught that the rights and duties of individuals must be kept for a society to function well.
I had not realised that this idea has crept into my understanding of the Christian community for a long time. Only recently, I was challenged to re-think this idea that basically put Rights and Duties as two pillars that held a community upright.
My first suspicion came when I thought about duties. Christian. Duties. For a lack of all-perfect words, we can use duties to describe some things in the life of a Christian, yet, in my mind, I often found it unhelpful. Duties? That sounds like something we must perform. When we fail to fulfil those duties, our rights will be taken away from us. You fail to fulfil your duty of paying taxes, your right to keep your own money will be taken away, or in a worse case, your right to live in your own home and go about wherever you please will be taken away and you'll be put in prison.
But, is that how we live as Christians? Is that how we should view Christian communities, especially?
Are we not free from all burdens? Are we not the heirs of God's Kingdom? Are we not friends of God?
Yes, we are! But then, why wouldn't you demand whatever suits you the most from all around you? Why wouldn't you demand your Rights all the time? Why did Paul let go of his Rights (1 Cor 9:3-14, 1 Thess 2:6)? Was it his duty to forgo his Rights, as if his duties were of higher priority than his rights?
It cannot be duties for we are free.
So what would make a free-man to let go of his rights?
The truly free Man showed me the way.
It is humility. Not duties. It must be. Duty is the language of an enslaved. Humility is the language of the free.
Having perfect freedom to exercise all His rights, even Divine Rights, He humbled Himself, so that we would gain life and freedom that He has.
This is how Christian community must work, Rights and Humility, not Rights and Duties.
(Also read: How community works)