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Whose right is it anyway?

The other day, before we were all six feet apart, someone was telling me about a friend who lived next to a tract of agricultural land. Much to the friend's chagrin the land had been bought by a chicken farmer. Understand, not a few backyard chickens, but a full scale Purdue or Tyson type chicken farmer. Anyone who has smelled or heard a mass production poultry farm understands why this might not be welcome, not to mention reduced property value.

The zoning meant that the farmer was doing nothing wrong and I am not criticizing him or her - but it does serve to prove that one person exercising their right causes another person to lose some of their freedom. Americans, perhaps more than anyone else, are proud of our rights. We have a lot but, too often, forget the privilege that they are and the responsibility which they bestow.

In his first letter to the Church in Corinth, Paul talks at length about food offered to idols (Chapter 8) he says, "But take care that this liberty of yours does not somehow become a stumbling-block to the weak..........Therefore, if food is a cause of their falling, I will never eat meat, so that I may not cause one of them to fall." Paul looks at both right and responsibility.

What I can do and what I should do are not always the same. Remember, the Gospel is not preached by words alone, but by actions. When we act we represent Christ. If we are seen to demand, act with anger or behave to the possible detriment of others - what are we saying about Christ. Jesus clearly showed that he could, but he didn't. Bread from stones, angels to catch him, walking away from Gethsemane and using sheer power to subdue the earthly kingdoms. That is not our God. Let's pray for grace and wisdom to use our liberty wisely, in service of Christ and of humanity.

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