Summary: Entitlement becomes our constant companion to rationalize what’s right is wrong and unless I am the beneficiary of love, peace and joy then something is terribly wrong with the Church.
Children of Light (John 12:35-36)
Many expect to be given God than they are to search for God. They want to be handed all the blessings of peace, prosperity, and providence which somehow they think God represents but they fall short of diligently seeking Him. That if I do what the pastor tells me – be kind, be generous, be good, then God is with me, my family. All that I do will be success. Yes, that’s the God I want. Give me this God. I hope and pray that’s not you.
The moral of the story is not about spending an enormous time of your life to find God. Rather, it is to ask if you are wasting away tremendous amount of time looking for what you have already have – GRACE. God is not this marvelous yet mysterious secretly locked up in a treasure chest. We can’t “find God”. God is not missing and He doesn’t need to be located. Besides, if you think you can find God than that makes you god. And I’d be standing here saying, “You guys are lucky cause if it isn’t for me who found God for you …” We didn’t find Him, He found us! That’s GRACE.
Are you still searching how many leaves and how many grains of sand to get access behind heavily locked doors to finally discover the source of beauty and meaning of life? (Illustration story - Bingham, DTS.edu).
Consumerism has long found its way into the institution of our Christian religion. An article in Christianity Today says (and I quote):
We find ourselves in a culture that defines our relationships and actions primarily through a matrix of consumption. As one philosopher explains, "Consumption is a system of meaning." We assign value to ourselves and others based on the goods we purchase. One's identity is now constructed by the clothes you wear, the vehicle you drive, and the music on your playlist. In short, you are what you consume.
This explains why shopping is the number one leisure activity of Americans. It occupies a role in society that once belonged only to religion - the power to give meaning and construct identity. Consumerism, as Pete Ward (expert?) correctly concludes, "represents an alternative source of meaning to the Christian gospel." No longer merely an economic system, consumerism has become the American worldview - the framework through which we interpret everything else, including God, the gospel, and church.” (end quote)
The article goes on to say – When we approach Christianity as consumers rather than seeing it as a way of life, Christianity becomes just one more brand we consume along with Gap, Apple, and Starbucks to express identity. And the demotion of Jesus Christ from Lord to label means to live as a Christian no longer carries an expectation of obedience and good works, but rather the perpetual consumption of Christian merchandise and experiences – music, books, t-shirts, conferences, and jewelry (Christianitytoday.com).
Turn your Bibles to John 12. We should be as Martha, Mary and Lazarus in verse 1-3 - Serving the Lord; Enjoying in the Lord’s presence; Loving with affection towards the Lord; Anointing the Lord with our deepest treasure as if knowing no matter how good we think it is, nothing is good enough to bless the Lord other than what we think is the very best. Serving God with our personal best.
Caution - When we should be offering our best, the best often robs the would-be-giver and reduces him into a self-absorbed, self-centered, and self-concerned victim. Sin is a disorder. Sin takes what is righteous and distorts the view of goodness, then turn whatever is honorable into an entitlement of perhaps it is “ME” who is most deserving of the gift.
Judas Iscariot panicked when Mary emptied an entire bottle of – “What are you doing? Are you out of your mind? Do you know how much this is worth?” (Most expensive perfume DKNY Golden Delicious $1 million; Clive Christian No.1 $12,721.89 per ounce.) v6 He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief who helped himself to what was put into the money bag which he was in charge of.
Entitlement becomes our constant companion to rationalize what’s right is wrong and unless I am the beneficiary of love, peace and joy then something is terribly wrong with the Church.
Can the local church feed into the tendencies of her congregants to develop an appetite for religious entitlement? Does the local church educate and emphasize the very purpose of its existence is not an accomplishment of people, planning and popularity but the very passion of Christ for His bride – the Church – to proclaim repentance as the means for eternal Salvation?
The fact that we sometimes miss the point of our gathering is outrageous. The point of our assembly is to fulfill the command of pointing eyes toward the towering source of light, turning hearts toward the transformational effect of the Word, and cultivating the terrains of faithful living in a frightful world, we are failing to uphold our calling and commitment towards the need for evangelism. Instead of evangelism it becomes entertainmentism one after another. We entertain to your hurt by offering healing; sadness with cheer; pain with promise; boredom with comedy; loneliness with community. Not that this is all bad but it is sad when Christ is left out in our faculty to glorify Him for the conditions you are in.