Millennials. We’re a product of our generation. It was ingrained in us to go to college because that’s the only way to be successful. Media tells us that self-wroth is gauged by wealth. The “American Dream” is modeled after the idea that if one works hard, grinds and hustles, they are entitled to the kinds of houses, cars and overall lifestyles that’s seen on “MTV Cribs” or “Real Housewives of Some Major City.” Christian community is not immune from this kind of thing. There are large segments of Christian teaching that tell us that God wants us to be rich, healthy and successful (according to the world’s standards). We are often falsely taught that we must have these things so that the world will see us and think we have it all together. There’s a school of thought about spiritual entitlement which says if we are “obeying” God, we deserve the glitz and glam…that God owes us a rich-and-famous lifestyle.
Oh, but on the contrary, the Bible gives us a different picture of our situation. We are told that we are people who have fallen far short of God’s standard of perfection (Romans 3:23). So, in reality, what we deserve is death and hell. That’s a tough pill to swallow, but the Bible is clear: “For the wages of sin is death,” says the apostle Paul in Romans. But God, being gracious and merciful does not give us what we deserve. The Bible says in Romans, “but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” A gift; a freely given, undeserving gift to us. One of my favorite verses in the Word is Ephesians 2:8-9 that reads,
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.”
There’s that word “gift” again. We didn’t work for it. We didn’t earn it. God intentionally bestowed grace, mercy and eternal life in Christ Jesus as a gift so that no one could truthfully say they obtained it on their own merit. How foolish are we to boast about something we didn’t earn or to think we deserve something because we attended Sunday School this week?
Now, does God favor His children? Does God bless His people? Certainly, God does bless His people. Just look in the Old Testament and you’ll read about men such as Abraham, Isaac and Jacob who all loved the Lord and who were blessed by Him with wealth and power. However, there are people all around the world who are more faithful than we are and yet materially, they have very little. There are people who endure great physical trials yet possess a faith that is deeper than we are able to understand. These people do not feel entitled to worldly blessings; they’ve discovered the blessing of intimacy with God which is far better than anything the world can give us.
Jesus did not call us to demand our rights; in fact, He seemed to teach that we should be willing to surrender our rights for the sake of the gospel. Jesus didn’t teach us to gather stuff, He told us to give it away to help others. He did not teach us to demand from others, He taught us to give of ourselves to others. He taught us that joy does not come from material things. True joy comes from resting in Him.