Most of you know that my being a New York Mets’ fan has conditioned me to deal with loss and disappointment on a regular basis. The other day, I witnessed at home what it must be like to have a sense of entitlement and expectation to win all the time, and then to have that taken away. Wasting time on a hot summer Sunday early evening, we were watching one of those goofy dog competitions. Getting to the agility event, I know that this is one Border Collies always win. They actually have an unfair advantage in the way their hips are created. It’s as if they have a “slinky for a spine” – to use the phrase of a long ago commercial.
Long story short, the Border Collie did not win. It lost to some “rat dog” whose handler “may” have cheated with an early release – who cares! But the angst from the couch next to me over the unexpected loss. (NO, it wasn’t Abby whining!) Is this what it is like to feel “entitled?”
We no longer live in a world that “entitles” Church or Christians to anything. A long time ago in what seems like a galaxy far away, the trappings of church determined the work week calendar, when stores could open, how time itself was delineated, how much deference clergy received, and the vocabulary of holidays.
We now live in a world where church attendance is no longer a matter of social status: you come to worship because you believe. And there may be more status in rejecting the trappings of any organized religion – especially the various traditions of Christianity. Sunday worship has even been described to me as a “bother” or an “inconvenience.”
This may shock you, but as one who questions the very purpose of entitlements, I see this as perhaps the Lord waking us up. If we are to be disciples of Jesus and walk his path, enlightened by His Spirit, then perhaps we must do so without social support or even social courtesy. Maybe we’ve been chosen to be the generation who must really LISTEN to what our God is calling us to be. Living off the status or accomplishments of prior generations is no longer an option and in effect, we are “entitled” to nothing – not even parochial survival. All we know is that we have been redeemed through no act of our own. We are totally loved by Our Father – not because we are entitled to that love, but because of God’s gracious mercy. All that I have and am is pure gift! And that puts having any sense of “entitlement” outside of my definition of being a Christian.