Summary: To be in a position of privilege is to be in a positino to think of and serve others.

Title: Privilege

Text: Matthew 20:20-28 (Mark 10:35-45)

Thesis: To be in a position of privilege is to be in a position to think of others (serevice).


James D. Berkley, author of The Leadership Handbook wrote, “All I ask of life is a constant and exaggerated sense of my own importance.” (James D. Berkley, “Eleven-gallon Head,” Leadership Weekly, 10//3/02)

Privilege is a right or benefit given to some but not others. To be a person of privilege is to have an edge or advantage that avails you to opportunities others do not have. Privilege is often associated with what a person has… wealth, power and influence. Privilege is often a matter of gender, socio-economic class, academic or educational opportunities, race and ethnicity… the classic example of privilege has been the privileged status of the middle-aged, white male who is part of the “good old boys club.”

Another way of looking at persons of privilege is to note that often privilege is about what that person does not have. A man who does not have one or both legs missing has an edge over the man who has missing legs. The man who does not have to work two jobs and go to community college at night has an advantage over the man who does. The man who is not a person of color may have an advantage the person of color does not. The man who is not a woman may have an edge on the person who is. The man who does not live in the ghetto may have an advantage over the person who does. It is not always about what a person has… it is also about what a person does not have to contend with while others must.

A person of privilege can use his or her privilege or abuse that privilege. A classic example of abuse came about a year ago, on June 15 of last year, 16-year-old Tim Keller stole beer from Wal-Mart, became intoxicated and with two of his friends in the back of his pickup, plowed into a group of people while doing 70 miles per hour and then fled the scene. Four people died and nine people were injured including one of the riders in the back of his pickup who remains paralyzed. (His blood alcohol was three times the legal limit.)

His defense claimed he suffered from “affluenza” which is a non-medical term for people whose wealth insulates them from consequences of having driven drunk and killed four people. “A defense psychologist testified that Ethan’s parents had never set any boundaries for him. He had freedoms no young man would be able to handle. They gave him whatever he wanted including his own party pad… leaving him to essentially raise himself. Therefore he could not understand the relationship between action and consequence.” Patrik Jonsson, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, December 18, 2013)

He received ten years of probation and zero time.

Affluenza is not necessarily about affluence, though that is part of the equation. Affluenza is really about privilege. People like privilege and will pay for it…

• Tourists visiting Universal Studios can, for $149, purchase the right to jump to the head of the line.

• Motorists pay for access to the HOV lanes so they can go faster than the schmucks in the regular lanes.

• Patients can have their doctor’s cell phone number and same day appointments for annual fees ranging up to as high as $25,000 annually.

• Credit card users can now purchase the right to a Centurion Card from American Express. For $2,500 a year you can own the Centurion Card which entitles you to charge $200,000 in one sitting. A person needs a lot of privilege to charge $200,000 on a single transaction.

It is not a matter of affluence, though affluence plays a part in it. It is ultimately about privilege. The privilege of jumping to the head of the line. The privilege of driving in the fast lane. The privilege of having your doctor at your beck and call. The privilege of having the distinction of being able to conduct a $200,000 transaction.

Our text today begins with a case of privilege expressed as selfish ambition.

I. Selfish Ambition

“In your kingdom, please let my two sons sit in places of honor next to you, one on your right and one on your left.” Matthew 20:20-21

James and John were Jesus’ cousins. Their mother was his aunt, a sister to his mother, Mary. So it is in the context of family or kinship that she approached Jesus. In verse 20 the bible says she “knelt respectfully to ask a favor” of Jesus. Her favor was that when Jesus came into his Kingdom, she would like for her sons to sit in places of honor next to him… one on his right and one on his left.

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