25 March 2009
We ain't entitled to jack
I'm not sure this is a theological insight. It's sort of a personal conviction. I've referred to it before, but I just feel like stating it, as clearly as I can. Here's what I think.
We - you and I, any human beings - are not entitled. We are not entitled to anything.
Anything, that is, except God's love, to whatever extent we can manage to receive it. But that's it. Really. That's it. Nothing else.
So, for example: your health? Not entitled. Your loved ones? Not entitled. Your natural gifts, talents, intelligence, sanity? Not entitled. Your job, your house, your money, your stuff? Not entitled to a lick of it. (But I've worked for those - they're mine! Sorry, no.) Human rights? Not entitled. Food, water, shelter? Nope. Freedom from oppression, imprisonment, war, torture? Uh-uh. Your next breath? Sorry, no guarantees.
There is nothing built into this universe that entitles us to anything within it. Anything. If we attain, or retain, any of these things, it is completely, 100% a free and amazing gift through the grace of God. If we lose these things, it's merely the natural end of a good thing (and as "they" are fond of saying, all good things must end.)
The nihilists are right. The universe is devoid of meaning and purpose - unless we make those. And the only way way to make those is by entering into loving relationship with God and each other. When we don't get good things, or we lose good things, it's not the universe's fault, and it's not God's fault. Neither God nor the universe entitled us to those things.
Those losses may, in fact, be our fault, but this is not about "we suck, we're totally depraved, original sin", and BS like that. That kind of thinking assumes that entitlement is a reality - it's just one that we don't deserve because we SUCK so much. That's crap thinking. Entitlement is a lie. We don't miss out on entitlement because we don't deserve it - we miss out on it because entitlement doesn't exist.
When we look at life this way, we realize that EVERY. SINGLE. GIFT we have is not ours to keep, because we deserve it - but only ours through grace, to share through grace. We give and share and love freely, sacrificially, joyfully, and with abandon - like God does. (I suck at looking at life this way.)
When we don't look at life this way, we sin. When we feel entitled to something (or someone), we fear losing it, or we fear not getting it in the first place. When we fear, we respond in anger, or in greed, or in numb avoidance. And we sin. (I'm much better at this kind of behavior.)
That's what I think about entitlement. And life. And I honestly think that if I could remember and practice it more, I would be more of a blessing to the people with whom I share this world.
image "ENTITLEMENT" by ChrisB in SEA (rights)