Entitlement is the Enemy of Worship

Many times we approach God like we do an employer. We come not broken and indebted but rather anxious and annoyed at him. Why? Well because we feel he’s failing us. We come to collect our paycheck for service rendered and it’s late or unavailable. We feel we’ve done our part better than most but when we need him he’s not there. Think about when you’ve needed that job so badly. Perhaps it was a business deal or a relationship you were pursuing. Think of when you were unwell or had an ailing loved one. Perhaps you were facing loss. The lie says you serve God, give your best and he’ll get you sorted. It’s more like being the employee of the year and your boss will look after you. He’ll surely not want to let you go. Except that’s not how it works.

Many who blame God and quit the faith do so because of this wrong expectation. We feel God owed us and yet he didn’t come through for us when we needed him. It’s a relationship bound to have a bitter ending. But it’s not really a relationship, to begin with. It’s more or less what exists between you and your shopkeeper. The goods are what bring you together. Without them, you’ve really no need to know each other. You’ve no relationship outside of this business. Such is what happens when we view God as our boss or shopkeeper. We expect a wage for service rendered and our relationship doesn’t go beyond what we get from him.

Privilege is the Posture of Scripture

With this entitlement, we feel wronged when God doesn’t come through for us. How could he not? We feel betrayed because we believe he owes us this much. But scripture puts across a different posture altogether. In place of entitlement, it gives us privilege. It says we owe him everything. We owe him our lives and for the Christian our second lives. It says ours is a relationship of grace. That what we have is not ours. What we do is not our work. And our very lives are not our own. In this regard, God doesn’t really owe us anything and yet he’s called us to ask everything from him. Actually, the Bible envisions that the life of a Christian is that of depending on God continually, 1 Thess 5:16-18. It’s an interesting twist of affairs where he owes nothing but actually wants to give us everything good.

Ours is not a boss-employee relationship as we wrongly imagine it. It’s a father-son relationship where the father is fully available and deeply endowed to the son. It’s the story of an adopted child who is deeply loved by her new parents with more than equal rights. When we truly understand what God calls us to we cease from entitlement to privilege. Privilege to belong, to have hope and to be involved in his work. Only then can we truly worship. Entitlement can fake worship because of the promise of reward but that never lasts. Immediately God fails us, which he will if that’s the kind of relationship we are in, we’ll tender our resignation. After all, he’s breached our agreement for service rendered and goods owed. He’ll be a bad boss to keep going to and a terrible shopkeeper to keep giving our money. But in a loving Father-son relationship, we’ll always belong.

We must kill Entitlement to Worship

We cannot worship God until we believe he owes us nothing. If we do Sunday becomes not a day to honour him but to keep him in our debt. Our giving is no longer out of a cheerful heart but a deposit awaiting a bigger return. Our acts of service and hospitality are not borrowed from his love and devotion but keeping ourselves in his good books. In that sense we might be the most religious and nice guys out there and yet have nothing to do with the worship of God. Until that moment when we realize God owes us nothing but gives us everything good, that we actually owe him everything worship will always be a foreign idea. We’ll enter his gates not with thanksgiving but bitterness because we feel betrayed. We’ll suffer with groaning angry that God would mistreat us despite what we’ve done for him. We might keep the faith but be very miserable Christians who think less of God and are always looking out for greener pastures out there.

Unfortunately, it’s always so easy to forget this. As a matter of fact, we always get back to entitlement. Actually the nearer we get to God and to his mission the more we might feel entitled. Sad that we can actually use his word to arm-twist him to our favour. Worse we can remain in his service as disgruntled workers who rob his sheep and mishandle those we serve alongside. May the Lord help us to kill entitlement. May he remind us by his Gospel what it cost his son to save us. That it’s his breath that keeps us alive and his hands that hold the universe together. Help us Lord to kill this sense of entitlement in us. Help us so that we may serve you wholeheartedly. That we may give cheerfully. To serve others with a clean heart and approach you with thanksgiving in our hearts. Give us the posture of Jesus that approaches the cup with trust in you. The humility to accept what comes our way and a willingness to go the extra mile knowing what you’ve done for us. Give us a new heart so we can worship you truly. 

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