As a Christ follower, who is doing his best to be obedient, I recently find myself feeling deep empathy for God. I feel this not because I have a sense of superiority to God, but because so many folks seem to invoke His name as an excuse for their behavior or to justify a desire. For instance, we all are now familiar with Jared Schmeck. The ex-policeman called the NOTAD Santa tracking center on Christmas Eve with his four children. They ended up chatting with President and First Lady Biden. At the end of the call, Schmeck said, “Merry Christmas” and “Let’s Go Brandon” but insisted that he meant “no disrespect” to the President or First Lady. (He did not mention how he thought his use of such a vulgar coded phrase was interrupted by his children.) Following the exposure of his crude insult, Schmeck whined that he was being attacked for exercising “my God-given right to express my frustrations in a joking manner.”
Schmeck is free to offer a rationalization for his action. He is free to say that he was joking and that he is now being unfairly maligned. Schmeck is free, but so am I, and I do not accept his pitiful excuse for his act, but I do hope his children learn that choices have consequences, and those consequences can sometimes be embarrassing or dreadful or worse.
However, I think Schmeck, like so many people in today’s cultural and political climate, goes too far when he invokes a God given right. I suggest that he confuses the Preamble of the Declaration of Independence with the words of the Bible. In my reading and studying of God’s word, I see much about obedience and love, but little, if any, about rights. The right any Christ follower has, is seems to me, is the right to love our God and neighbor. If Schmeck studies the greatest sermon ever taught in Matthew 5-7, he will read about obedience, faith, love, and works but nothing about rights.
God gives us much, but no where in the Bible do I learn about a “right” to be mean, ugly, disrespectful, vulgar, a poor example to children, or more. Those actions are not rights. I pray that Schmeck took the opportunity to teach his children about their fortune in being able to chat with the President and First Lady on the Eve of Jesus’ birth. I also pray that he remembers the words of James in 3:6-“And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity:….”
Instead of using God to rationalize our words and deeds, let us use Him to justify them.