R8 Understanding the law

Seeking God’s justice to uphold the rights of others, particularly those who are poor and oppressed, requires more than good will. It requires some knowledge of how the law operates, and the human rights that people are entitled to. There are many long and detailed laws, constitutions and United Nations conventions that describe in great detail how the law should operate.

However, the easiest to understand is the very first UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This was written in 1948 following the atrocities of the Second World War. Governments promised that they would tell their citizens about these rights and seek to promote and protect them. 

Appeals or letters on behalf of others could quote the relevant article from this Declaration. If more information is required, NGOs working to promote human rights could be asked to help. They could find out about the other laws and conventions that advocacy work can be based upon.

Discussion 
  • Read Acts 22:22-29. Paul is an example of a Christian who really knew and understood the law. Throughout Acts there are many examples of his actions when in trouble with the authorities. Sometimes he was silent. Sometimes he defended himself. Sometimes he stirred up old arguments regarding the understanding of the law. In this passage he quietly mentions his rights. What did Paul question? What was the response?
  • What rights could we claim if we were imprisoned without charge? If we don’t know, how could we find out more? Are there any NGOs or Christian groups in our region working to promote human rights?
  • What can we learn from Paul’s response to the authorities? (Read more of Paul’s actions in Acts.)
  • The UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights has sometimes been described as a well-kept secret! Have we read it? Are we familiar with what it says? How could we share this information with others?
  • How important is it for us to know our rights – and the rights of other people?

Articles 29, 30 UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights