As a Christian, I know that the Ten Commandments are the Law for me. The Commandments tell me what I can and cannot do, and they comfort me.
At the same time, as a Canadian, I also know that I have rights and freedoms that are guaranteed to me under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom. The Charter is part of the Canadian Constitution and is the highest law of the land. No Canadian law is higher, and no Canadian law can supersede my rights and freedoms as a Canadian. Even under a state of emergency, my rights and freedoms remain intact. They cannot be nullified by any temporary directive or order. That is my guaranteed right as a Canadian.
I mention this because Paul knew his rights and freedoms as a Roman citizen. He was first and foremost a follower and apostle of Jesus, but he was also a Roman citizen. The rights afforded him as a Roman citizen gave him special protections by the Roman soldiers who helped him escape from the posse of temple elders who were planning to kill him. Being a Roman citizen also enabled Paul to live a life of relative freedom and comfort in Rome during the years he was awaiting trial.
While we’re yet in the world, we need to know what our rights and freedoms are in whatever country we are a citizen or resident. And not only do we need to know those rights and freedoms – we need to claim them, we need to assert them, and we need to stand on them, like Paul did. If we don’t know our rights, we can easily be misled by threats and coercion, or by the ignorance or malignance of people in positions of authority over us.
Case in point: Several years ago, I rented an apartment in Nova Scotia that was heated by electricity. The landlord told me, when I signed the lease, that the electricity bill was a certain amount per month on average. When it came time for me to move into the apartment, I called the power company to have the electricity account changed to my name. I also asked, out of curiosity, what the average power bill was. I was SHOCKED (pun intended lol) to hear that it was three times the amount I’d been told by the landlord.
When I got off the phone, I prayed. I knew there was no way I could afford the apartment with the power bill that high, and the apartment just wasn’t worth the high cost anyway. So I asked God to help me find a way out of the lease that wouldn’t involve me simply walking away from it.
He immediately had me go online to a website that had a verbatim copy of the Residential Tenancies Act, which are the laws governing landlord and tenant relations in Nova Scotia. I had never read the Act before. Once on that website, God guided me to the very clause that would get me out of the lease. I remember staring at it for a few minutes and thinking: “This can’t be real, I must be misunderstanding it”. So I called the government department responsible for landlord tenant issues and asked them to confirm whether the clause would in fact get me out of the lease. The woman I spoke with confirmed that it would. She herself had to consult with a colleague to make sure her interpretation of the clause was correct, because, as she confided, she’d been working at the department for over 20 years, and no-one had ever, to her knowledge, used that clause to get out of a lease.
I called the landlord and informed him that I was moving out (I’d never actually moved in) and told him why and on what grounds. The landlord then consulted with his lawyer about what I’d told him, and he was informed by his lawyer that the reason was sound and irrefutable. The lawyer also advised him to give me back all my money and to let me go. To the landlord’s credit, he did, and that was that.
Laws are made for a reason. God cherishes laws, and he wants us also to cherish them and to use them to our benefit. The Ten Commandments are there for our guidance and comfort, just as the laws of the land are there for our protection. Like Paul, we need to know the laws of the land pertaining to our rights, we need to claim them, we need to assert them, and we need to stand on them. For me, whether it’s the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms or the Residential Tenancies Act – these laws have been put there by God for my protection as much as the Commandments have been put there for my guidance and comfort.
God wants me, as his child, to take full advantage of every right and freedom afforded me as a Canadian. But it is my responsibility to learn about my rights under the various laws of the land, and then to assert them. No-one is going to do that for me; I have to do it for myself.
I invite you now to acquaint (or reacquaint) yourself with the laws of whatever land you’re living in. I’m going to post a link to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms below, for any Canadians who are reading this. As with the Commandments, we are responsible not only for knowing the laws, but for informing others about them. Informing others about them is as important as informing ourselves.
Remember – the rights afforded Canadian citizens under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms cannot by nullified under any circumstance, including a state of emergency.
May God bless you for reading this, and may you be blessed for keeping informed of – AND ASSERTING – your rightful freedoms. Just as God helped me to use a little-known law to get out of a deceitful lease, he will use his Law and the laws of the land to help all of his children thrive in the Kingdom and survive in the world. That’s his job as our Father.
The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms: http://www.charter.ofrightsandfreedoms.ca/