Rev. Dr. David Lavigne, Bishop of the Evangelical Christian Church in Canada (Christian Disciples), emailed out a link to our group today that contained a video of Great Quotes From Great Leaders (http://www.videosmotivational.com/best-clips/success/great-quotes-from-great-leaders/#.UZYXxsrttZ4.gmail ). All of the quotes were very powerful but the one that struck me as very poignant yet quite forgotten was attributed to Dwight Eisenhower. He said “A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both”. Why did this affect me so much? Let’s break this one down a bit.
Our civilized western culture was built upon a biblical foundation; in fact many of our laws and principles can still be traced to their biblical roots. Do to others as you want them to do to you, one of my mother’s favourites, can be found in Luke 6:31. Don’t judge those around you because they can also find fault in you is found in Luke 6:37 and if you go a bit further, forgive and you will be forgiven. These are principles. Do not kill, do not steal, do not go after what another has or owns. These are basic principle that have their origins in Old Testament and are from the hand of God. If you want more examples, take a close look at the Scriptures, paying very close attention to the red letter words in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, and see where the principles set forth by God line up with the laws, morals and ethics of today. Be careful with the laws however as the basic laws still follow fairly close but the loop hole laws, as I like to call them, are more geared to privilege.
Now let us look at privilege. According to the Free Dictionary (online) privilege is defined as: A special advantage, immunity, permission, right, or benefit granted to or enjoyed by an individual, class, or caste. Look at the last part; enjoyed by an individual, class or caste. This is not how the bible works because, if we look to the two greatest commands from Scripture “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength”, repeated numerous times in the Old Testament, and then the addition to it from the mouth of Jesus Christ, “Love your neighbour as yourself”. This has absolutely nothing to do with advantages enjoyed by an individual, class or caste. This has everything to do with community.
Now I know there are a few who are going to argue that following Christ could be defined as privilege because only Christians can go to heaven but I reply with this; Christianity is based on inclusion of all people and is open to all and if you walk into a church where this is not preached, find another church. None are denied the opportunity to enter into heaven; it is a privilege that is open to all. All people of this world are children of God; it is the individual’s choice whether they will follow Him and enter into a relationship with Christ. There is no exclusion on earth for all have the opportunity; that is the principle set forth by our Father in heaven. So, let’s get back to it.
Privilege is a selfish attitude. Those who feel it is their right or privilege to do whatever they want put themselves into a position of exclusiveness where they have the right to choose who may or may not come into their inner circle. It is all about the self rather than about the community and when we focus on the self to the exclusion of all others, we find ways to bend the principles of life to fit our own needs even if it to the detriment of others. Various people such as Howard Hughes and Ted Williams are, today, cryogenically frozen in the hope that one day there will be the technology available to bring them back to life, cure them of their ailments and prolong their lives even more. The principle of life is that we will all, at some point, die. For many this is the start of an eternal life with the Father but for those who have given over to privilege rather than focus on the principles set forth by a loving God, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” John3:16-17 NIV. This is a promise from the designer of all things to all His children; a principle to live by but when the privilege overrules, crazy new ideas spring forth to placate the wants of the individual.
The principles put forth by God in His Holy Word are designed to be a guide for us all. It shows the way to living a righteous lifestyle with a focus on community rather than on individualism. God created man in His own image and created Eve from Adam so that there would be community. God commanded us to go forth and multiply; community. When your brother falls, be there to help Him up; compassion and helping others. If we focus on helping others and rely on the principle that others are looking outwards as well, we will never have to worry for our own needs as they will be fulfilled. It is only when the needs of self get in the way of helping others that we begin the snowball effect. “I can’t help you because I am so mired in my own needs that I have to take care of this myself.” This attitude is transferred forward and soon all are islands unto themselves and privilege has overcome the principles set forth by God. But, my friends, this trend can be reversed. As the great Mahatma Gandhi once said “We must become the change we want to see in the world”. In other words, we must not only walk the talk but we must also teach the talk and expect others to see what can be accomplished by reversing the trend of individualism. In this, we can promote change and the world can become a better place, one person at a time.