Rights…? Privileges…? or both?

Currently, much national attention has been directed toward the world wide plight of refugees, especially those in war torn areas like Iraq or Syria.  Depending on your own personal or political persuasions, your reactions to our common conversation could be quite varied.  Certainly our hearts go out to those overwhelmed by violence, persecution and the results of aggression.  Our civil compassions tend to create in us a desire to help–and rightfully so.  Yet, one part of the refugee dilemma is not being discussed.  It is that oversight that I’d like to high-light here.

Listening to the main stream of thought, a person could be persuaded to conclude that we, America in general and Americans specifically, are somehow obligated to offer ‘carte blanche’ admission to our country and its resources to those affected by political, economic or personal trauma.  We, so goes the reasoning, the recipients of such blessings as we enjoy, must allow others with less opportunity to gain unfettered access to all that the United States has been allowed to accrue.  And though that view carries with it plausible arguments and laudable  emotional assertions, public agreement is far from unanimous.  Indeed, even in the church, many disagree with the open access precept and are often vilified for holding such a contrarian view.

To me, the discussion would be better served and more biblically advanced by asking one simple question:  ‘Is access to the United States a RIGHT or a PRIVILEGE or BOTH.’  If it is a ‘right’, then US authorities should never restrict access to our Country.  ALL must have unfettered use of the United States and its resources.  But, if access to the US is a granted ‘privilege’, then it must be asserted that no one has an inherent right to live in our country and require use of its resources.  How we answer this ‘rights vs privilege’ question will greatly affect our choices.  And how we answer should be significantly impacted by our understanding of how God functions.

As we discuss this issue, let’s ask ourselves a few questions about how God views Heaven.

Now, most of us would agree that Heaven is a marvelous place where God is Supreme, all things are good, resources are abundant beyond our imagination, trauma doesn’t exist and love and peace perpetually flourish.  As He sovereignly oversees Heaven, God decides who gains access to Heaven based on a person’s response to Jesus:  the Way, the Truth and the Life.  No one gains access to Heaven except through the Lord Jesus.  Fail to fulfill the Lord’s will regarding Jesus and access will certainly be denied.  NO ONE has a right to Heaven until God grants that privileged right.  As He teaches in John 1:12, ‘AND TO ALL WHO RECEIVED HIM, TO THEM THAT BELIEVED IN HIS NAME, TO THEM HE GAVE THE RIGHT TO BECOME CHILDREN OF GOD.’  Some might argue that they have a ‘right’ to Heaven because they go to church.  Others say that they have a right to it because their name is on a church membership roll somewhere.  Many conclude that they deserve to be in Heaven because they have been morally good, philanthropic or compassionate.  But that is just not true.  None of those people, so labeled, has any right to access heaven.  That right is reserved for those who have received and faithfully acted upon God’s prescribed plan.  There will be no exceptions.

In a way, at least figuratively speaking, the US is somewhat like heaven on earth to some.  Those of the most impoverished among the world’s nations could conclude that life in the US is good almost beyond description.  And, relatively speaking, we live an almost ‘palatial’  life style here.  By comparison, even the most ‘down and out’ among us live far better than even the most prosperous in some other countries of the world.

So I ask, ‘Does any and everyone deserve the right to be in America simply because they see us as well off and see themselves as in need?  Do they deserve access because they are in need of it and want it?’  Or should access be based on someone’s willingness to adhere to a prescribed set of non-negotiable rules?  Should those rules be set and administered to the best of our ability, for the most certain security of those granting the privileged right and for the most compassionate expression of concern for those less blessed among the world’s needy?

As for me, let us offer to anyone access to America who has as a life goal to lift America up to be the best she can be for the Lord, who is willing to pay any price for that privileged right and who is fiercely passionate about protecting the genuine spiritual heritage of America, our national security and the Biblical/Godly mandate of Almighty God.   And, let all others be asked to remain away and be required to wait until they are ready to assume the responsibilities that accompany the privileged right of access to America.




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