Do entitled Christians make you want to avoid church? You know, for instance, people who say, I’m Christian so I can do whatever I want. I’ve been saved. I’m forgiven. Everything’s good, no matter what I do.
I can’t decide if it’s sad or funny. Funny in a sad way.
There are things Christians received from God.
None are entitlements, in the way we generally think of them.
Certainly, none that in any way mean we deserve something because we’re Christian.
One thing we are “entitled” to is the ability to live with the Holy Spirit as our guide to life as a Christian. However, that “entitlement” comes from being baptized and promising to follow Jesus.
To show what that means, let’s look at what Jesus told us, His followers, to do in what’s known as The Great Commission.
The Great Commission
Mt 28:16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Notice – teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. In order to do that, we must learn everything Jesus commanded us. And of course, when we became disciples at the time of our baptism, as also promised to obey everything Jesus commanded us.
One other thing we’ll look at is when Jesus was asked about which commandment is the greatest.
The Greatest Commandment – Matthew
22:34-40 pp — Mk 12:28-31
Mt 22:34 Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. 35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Mt 22:37 Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
It’s just two things. Love God with everything we are – heart, soul, and mind. And then love everyone else the way we love ourselves. That’s assuming we have a proper love for ourselves, within the context of everything Jesus taught. Which, of course, we should, because we’re learning what Jesus taught.
All of this is somewhat imperfect, to various degrees, for all of us. We’re working on being perfect, but we aren’t there yet. And we won’t be until the next life.
What’s the title thought of entitled Christians about?
What’s the title thought of entitled Christians about? And why do they turn off non-Christians? For that matter, other Christians as well.
Crosswalk, where the ideas for this series came from, refers to a verse from Matthew’s Gospel. Here’s that one verse:
If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.
If you’re a regular reader here, you know how much I don’t like pulling out one verse with no context. So, here’s the passage that contains that one verse. It’s not what you probably expect unless you recognize the verse.
Jesus Predicts His Death – Matthew
16:21-28 pp — Mk 8:31—9:1; Lk 9:22-27
Mt 16:21 From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.
Mt 16:22 Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!”
Mt 16:23 Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.”
Mt 16:24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. 26 What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? 27 For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done. 28 I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”
Yes – it’s from a passage where Jesus tells His disciples that He’s going to suffer and die. Because of the Jewish leaders. And then, the news they didn’t understand, that He will come back to life on the third day of the sequence of days He just laid out. If you’re not familiar with it the first day is Good Friday and the third day is Easter.
Why did Jesus talk about His death along with us taking up our cross?
So, is Jesus comparing His death to us somehow dying? Why else would He be talking about crosses for Him and us?
Here’s a hint as to how that works. It’s an excerpt from something on my other site about The Beatitudes, which are like Jesus’ manifesto on how we should live our lives.
At the time, those listening to Jesus didn’t know what was going to happen. But they knew something special was going to happen. Because they knew Jesus was special.
Mt 7:28 When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, 29 because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.
But if we’re not as empty as they were, can we honestly say the same thing? And by honestly, I mean can we really feel it, believe it, and give up our own human spirit – die to self – and be ready, willing, and able to receive the Holy Spirit? Are we willing to be transformed? Give up whatever God asks us to give up? And I don’t mean just give up things that are wrong. I mean give up things that are OK, things that we want to do, but God says do something else instead.
Are we willing to do what His Spirit tells us to do? Give up our desires, our resources, and our time?
So you see, the death that takes place is the death of desires and goals that we had for ourselves. Why? Because God has a better life for us. One that’s led by the Holy Spirit. For me, among other things, it meant retiring early and giving up my ideas for post-retirement life, like doing woodworking, and writing/maintaining both this site and God versus religion. And to teach adult Bible study in the church I attend.
Conclusion – Do entitled Christians make you want to avoid church?
As usual in this series, there are two main reasons for asking, Do entitled Christians make you want to avoid church?
First, it’s a call to all of us who claim to be Christian. A call to examine ourselves.
And to ask God to examine us, as David did in Psalm 139.
Second, it’s to let non-Christians, or anyone really, who’s turned off by someone who claims to be Christian, and then acting, time after time, very much like a non-Christian.
In other words, part of my goal is for you to know what God really asks of us. Sometimes it’s not at all what you see. Not at all how we act. We should at least be trying to live like Jesus taught us. And if we’re not, please don’t blame God.
And if you’re at a church where pretty much anything goes, and it doesn’t seem like people are following what Jesus taught, please don’t blame it on God.
Yes, maybe you need to walk away from the church you’re currently in. But don’t leave God. There are churches where many/most people legitimately try to follow Jesus. And they help each other do that. One way is being accountable to each other.
It is possible. It is done. And if that’s what you’re looking for, but don’t see it where you are, ask God to lead you to a church that really does try to function according to His commands. According to the Holy Spirit.
It’s not just Sundays where this matters/ It affects everything for the rest of our lives. And for the rest of eternity.
The series on things that make you want to avoid church is based on 10 Ways You May Be Destroying the Church from crosswalk.com. Of course, from the opposite point of view – ways Christians may be making people avoid church.
Image by John Hain from Pixabay