Addressing our entitlement mentality

When I arrived at Welcome Weekend 2008 as an eager freshman, my view of the Christian life included the descriptive words perfect, happy, easy, and blessed. This view was disproved quickly because of my exposure to suffering and pain in the lives of Christian women in the dorms.

Yet, Grace College equips us to overcome those hurtful and truly hard times with the truth that healing comes through the gift of grace according to Christ’s death and resurrection. While God pours out grace freely in order to mold us into the image of His son, do we the students at Grace College, except this invitation? Do we fully embrace grace?

Sometimes we fail to view grace accurately because we act as if we are entitled to a happy life. The root of entitlement is that one is rightly qualified or worthy. It is the “you owe me” attitude because I deserve it. In the pragmatic sense, entitlement can be a form of legalism in that works ensure blessings.

For example, “I am ‘rightly qualified’ to get my dream job after I graduate because I prayed a lot about my future job.”  Or entitlement can be a means of justifying our sin, “I am ‘rightly qualified’ to hate life today because I am experiencing a lot of pain in my personal life.”

As sinful humans, we think and act upon the selfish ideal that we deserve what we want and feel in life.

However, we are dead, children of wrath, and sons of disobedience without Christ.  If God were a truly fair God, we would have no opportunity of relationship with him and we would experience eternal separation.

One necessary and concise verse in the Bible is Ephesians 2:4, “But God…” indicating that it is God’s own work that has enabled us to be made alive with Christ and “to know the immeasurable riches of his grace.”

Is the gift of grace something we deserve? By no means, because we deserve death. As we live as Christ-followers, should we continue to feed the mentality that we deserve to be married, to be an RA, to live in Kent, to be recognized by our professors, to have the best outfit, to watch what movie I want in the lobby, to get the best grade in the class, to criticize professors when they lose our papers  because we think this will give us a more  comfortable and fulfilled life?  And when we receive blessings and experience joyous times on this earth, should we attribute them to ourselves?  By no means, but we should turn and thank the gift-giver.

Recently, the Resident Director of Kent, Dan McNamara, communicated to me that much of the middle-class church is ignorant of the gospel implication that the Christian life is not an easy life.  Paul, in writing to the church at Philippi, mentions how “bad” circumstances are not always bad.

For example, Paul refers to his imprisonment in Rome as an opportunity to rejoice because Christ was proclaimed. A seemingly “bad” circumstance, with pure thinking, was an advance of the gospel (Philippians 1:12-18).  His greeting to the church does not state, “I am ‘rightly qualified’ to be released because I am the first century Billy Graham.” In fact, Paul embraces suffering because he knows he is not deserving of life and reveals how Christ is deserving through the urgent proclamation of the gospel

It would be a shame to downgrade or to become desensitized to the hurt within the hearts of students or the “bad” circumstances students are facing.  It is real pain and it takes time to heal.

Even as I recognize the areas in my life where I have experienced pain and respond with the notion that it is not fair because I want a perfect and happy life, I am reminded of the truth that I deserve nothing.  I actually deserve death.  But God who is rich in mercy allowed His Son to die on a tree so that I may dwell with Him in eternity. He is entitled to our lives because He is deserving.

Story by Brie Cremean | Contributing Writer | cremeabe@grace.edu