Today I am starting a 3 week series called Ponder. Together I want us to look at the Christmas story and this year see ourselves reflected back. Today is the first post in the series and I hope you come back for the next 3 Fridays and take this journey with me. Also, for the Next 3 Fridays at 12 Noon CST I am going LIVE on Facebook to share more about our place in the Christmas Story. I would love to have you join me LIVE or to watch the replay.
Entitlement, it’s a buzz word. As defined by Webster, entitlement is, “a belief that one is deserving of or entitled to certain privileges”
By that definition I would say that entitlement characterizes the current state of the human race. Specifically in the western world we are a culture of people that believes strongly in our right to have rights. Our right to do what we want with our bodies, our homes, our families. A right to pleasure, a right to success, a right to money. A right to work hard and play hard. To get the results we feel entitled to because of the effort, work, money that we have put in.
We like to point out entitlement in others when we sense our own entitlement being infringed upon. How dare that person think they deserve what I haven’t received or what I had to work harder for. Entitlement is at its roots, selfish. Selfish is how we all enter the world. We see with children that this is the way we start; selfish and entitled. Babies and toddlers don’t know of a world outside of themselves and their needs and are persistent to get what they want when they want it. It is in the growing up process that children are taught to wait, share, and that the world isn’t all about them. The idea is that as adults we become less selfish and entitled but often this is not the case. Especially in the year 2017 where what we want is at our fingertips and we can come to expect, or be entitled to, all the things.
Entitlement doesn’t end with material things, I believe in some ways we suffer from spiritual entitlement. “I deserve a God who loves me (i.e overlooks whatever I do and gives me a free pass to heaven) no matter what kind of relationship I have with him.” Or, “I have a right to a good life because I haven’t done anything really wrong”. How about, “ I deserve a better (fill in the blank) than so and so because I worked harder and have sinned less.”
Writing these out I hear a whiny voice saying them in my mind and I feel embarrassed to admit that in my own walk these feelings of entitlement can sneak up and slither in taking root in my mind and I don’t think I am alone.
Pondering the Christmas story this year I see myself staring back, I see me reflected in the narrative. There is something so incredibly humble about what Christ did for us by coming to earth as a baby, in poverty, and scandal, to be born among animals and worshiped by shepherds. The humility reflected in Christ shines an ugly light on my own entitlement and I wonder if this stark contrast can teach us something this year.
I am willing to bet, because they were human, that the characters of the Christmas story may have struggled with entitlement too.
Mary may have felt entitled to a grand wedding but surrendered to carry God as man in her womb.
I can imagine that Joseph felt entitled to do things the proper way but let go of that dream to care for Mary and lead this new family he had suddenly been given.
Maybe the Wise Men had different ideas about how they would spend the months that it took them to journey, or what they would find when they finally arrived.
Or the Shepherds, what did they risk leaving by leaving their flocks?
Friends, this is where we all begin. Puffed up with big dreams and plans about our rights in life, entitled to have things the way that we have worked for and deserve. Yet I think we find that entitlement isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
Our dreams pale in comparison to our Creator God’s. The mirror is ready to reflect the true state of our situation as we look at Jesus. He is the only one truly entitled to anything and compared to him we are owed no privilege, yet we have been given the most precious one.
The privilege to worship the King and be a part of his work is worth laying down our entitlement for. Like Mary who said “may it be unto me as you have said”. Like the Shepherds who left their flocks. Like the Wise Men who traveled far. Like Joseph who sacrificed his right to the right way. They all exchanged the ordinary for a chance at being a part of something extraordinary.
What might God have for you and I if we do the same?