It is not uncommon to hear someone demand their rights. We are intoxicated with "our rights." I have a right to ..... Fill in the blank and someone has demanded a right to it. I do it. You do it. People we like do it. People we do not like do it (and we notice them more). As smarter folks than me have explained, the focus on rights is a "me" centered process. I see the world as beholden to me. I see other people as responsible to supply me with what I believe they have a responsibility to provide me. Duties of others are a function of "my rights." It works pretty well until our sense of entitlement gets out of whack.
The discussion of rights is a worthy pursuit but I am headed in a different direction today. Because of the rights based focus, we tend to think that each person should be free to identify and articulate his/her own rights. This mingles with some cultural assumptions (everyone has a right to their own opinion, all opinions are equally valid, no one has a right to tell someone else they are wrong, etc.) and produces a world where we tend to see each individual as ok supreme. Because we are reluctant to see ourselves as flawed (even grievously flawed) it is easy for us to see the demand for our rights as a question of justice. Now there is a whole subset of humans who think in justice terms all the time. For them every question is a justice question. Unfortunately, their definition of justice frequently includes disregarding all manner of rights for other people. The difficult challenge of living in a world with competing rights is replaced by the "correct" way of doing things (which tends to be their way).
I tend not to ask God for justice, at least for myself. Fundamentally, I think I am in sin and a sinner needs mercy, not justice. I have a more highly developed sense of sin than many people. I read the Bible alot. I pray alot. I read the spiritual masters alot. I think alot. And I meditate on myself (too much) and God's expectations. All I can say is what I am left with is a realization that all the good I have done pales in comparion to the evil I have done and the good I have left undone. In financial terms, I have a great sum of money, but my debt dwarves it. I am "upside down."
In our reading from Jeremiah today the proper response to God is effectively communicated. (Jer 17:14)
Heal me, O Lord, and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved, for you are the one I praise." How does this healing and salvation come about?
(John 12:27 ff) It comes at a cost. Jesus said, "Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? 'Father, save me from this hour'? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name" [side note, this is the meaning of the first petition of the Lord's prayer. Hallowed be your name, in passive voice, means God must make His name holy, or glorify His name!]
Then He declares, Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself." There it is, not a demand for justice. Not a foolish demand that things go "my" way. Not a silly misunderstanding that how I see the world is how it truly is. Rather, it is a recogntion that the one true God has found a way. Jesus saw it coming before it happened. Lifted up means on the cross. Lifted up means resurrection from the dead. Lifted up means ascended to heaven, brought back in to God's presence in heaven. And we who realize we are sinners in need of mercy, freed from our demands for justice and our rights, will kneel in silence in the days ahead. We may not totally understand how Jesus saves us (more on that in days ahead). But really who among us totally understands the operation of the human body? We know enough.
"You are going to have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you. The man who walks in the dark does not know where he is going."
So much of our demand for justice is the babbling of (wo)men stumbling in the darkness. We do not know where we are. We do not know where we are going. We have no map. And the Prince of this World mumbles his lies in vicious deceit, twisting truth (justice) into a distortion (my justice, my rights) with enough lie in it to be deadly. Let Jesus explain to you what it all means. Seek His mercy and forget about your rights. Seek Truth and forget your personal truths. Seek life, in His death, and stop clinging to worthless scraps of existence which never satisfy. Leave the darkness. Or at least cling to what light you can.