Our rights that are granted, given

Doug Campbell - Contributing columnist

The lawyer asked Jesus, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” (Mark 10:17ff)

In God’s “grace (gift) economy”, it’s only when we realize that we can’t muster the where-with-all to pay or bribe God for the things we need or want, that we begin to “get it”. There’s nothing to DO other than resign ourselves to living by God’s good graces, and just saying thanks.

When my grandmother died – oh, how I miss that woman! – I executed her will. Her first choice for executor was my mother, but she was then living in Florida, not Ohio. It was my job to see that Granice’s estate was evenly distributed among her three sons.

There were no issues, thankfully. When mom died, I again had a will to execute, but since I am an only child I could only argue with myself – no big deal, since we used up her entire estate in her care, and she “came out even”.

Inheritance: That which by someone’s will, or by law, goes to another who then has a right to benefit from the residue of his or her estate. (Is that close, lawyers?)

The lawyer wanted to have by right that which God offers by grace; put it in his “asset” column so that he could cash it in in the future.

We’re already in God’s will.

And since it’s all a gift, we have no “rights” to exercise – only grace. And it’s not reserved for the future, God’s will is in force to be executed now.

Lest our heads begin to hurt, remember that the world works according to law, not grace. Oh, grace happens in the world, and it always gets our attention because it’s not normal.

The world works by law – and law, according to how it’s structured, gives us certain “rights”. There’s statutory law, civil law: What governments establish to regulate citizens’ lives. There’s natural law: The scientific principles God has built into His creation to keep it running smoothly.

Think “gravity”. We don’t earn any rights; they are granted, given.

Since we receive everything by grace, even those statutes and natural principles, perhaps we should be careful about asserting our “rights” in any and every case, and think first about what we’ve been given, and how God might will for us to share with our siblings.

Pastor Doug Campbell is a retired Lutheran pastor and a member of Faith, Wilmington. He currently is supplying pulpits in the Southern Ohio Synod. He was formerly Deputy Wing Chaplain for the Civil Air Patrol in Ohio. Before seminary he worked for the Chillicothe (O) Gazette, and as the editor of the Chanute AFB newspaper in Rantoul, Illinois.

This weekly column is provided to the News Journal on a monthly rotation basis by members of the Wilmington Area Ministerial Association.


Doug Campbell

Contributing columnist