When the Gospel is properly lived, it does result in life, liberty, and happiness, but not usually in the way the world defines it.
When life, liberty, and happiness become goals in and of themselves, they cease to be goals and quickly become our gods. They then lead us, not toward the Gospel and the will of God, but in direct opposition. There is no better example of this than the one being in Scripture who desired to live life as he wanted, liberated from all divine control, free to pursue his own happiness as he defined it.
Who is this? None other than Lucifer. His initial rebellion and his existence ever since, have been in the name of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
While life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are valuable human ideals in themselves, they are by no means “God-given rights,” are not guaranteed in Scripture, and when such values are divorced from the understanding that we will answer to God, these rights become some of the greatest instruments of death, enslavement, and sadness the world has ever seen.
They become almost Satanic.
The Right to be Wrong
In many regards, these rights have caused western society and culture to become self-centered and egotistical. “We are dominated by the essentially Enlightenment values that rule American culture: pursuit of happiness, unrestricted freedom of choice, disdain for authority” (The Divine Conspiracy, 214).
People demand their personal freedoms, even if it causes the bondage and enslavement of others.
Individuals do everything necessary to make their own life full of happiness and joy, even if it means destroying the lives of others, betraying friends and family, and ruining the hopes and dreams of countless people.
When some run after life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, they seek the power to do as they please with little or no thought about the life, liberty, or happiness of others.
Churches Have Fallen Prey
Far too often, churches have fallen into the same trap. In the rest of the posts in this series, we will look at seven rights frequently claimed by Christians and churches.
Three are from the Declaration of Independence: the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The final four are from the Bill of Rights in the Constitution: the right to practice religion, the right to free speech, the right to assemble, and the right to bear arms.
In each section, we will look at the value of these rights from a humanitarian perspective, and then how the right can be misused and abused when divorced from God and the Gospel, and how churches are guilty of this as well. Each section will conclude with what Scripture teaches about this right, and how it could be lived out within the liberating confines of the Gospel.
As we will see, the Gospel calls us to give up our rights as we follow Jesus into the world.