Wednesday, March 27, 2013

lay down entitlement

When they came to the place called the Skull, 
there they crucified him, along with the criminals. 
Jesus said, “Father, forgive them.” 
Luke 23:33-34

Entitlement breeds anger. Judas believed in Jesus—the wrong Jesus, the Jesus of entitlement. Judas’ flaw was that he believed in the wrong Jesus too much. We tend to fashion Jesus in our own image. We feel entitled to this Jesus. If he surprises us in any way, we become indignant.

But remember, the very ones who shouted “Hosanna!” on Sunday were shouting “Crucify!” on Friday. Why this turn-about? Entitlement. They were not so much upset about who Jesus was; they were upset about who he wasn’t. If anything they wanted him to do more, to be more. They felt entitled to a Messiah on their terms. So, they raged because Jesus hit too close to home. He touched on their hearts. He touches ours as well.

“He calls for a change of heart?! How dare he?! I deserve better than to be treated like that!” But all he asks is for us to become like little children again. The most harmless request is often the most threatening.

You will notice Jesus did not fight fire with fire. Entitlement is not set right by defending one’s rights; it is rectified by laying down one’s rights. So, Jesus prayed. In praying, he laid down his rights. By rights, he could have called 10,000 angels to rush to his defense. He did not cash in.

Rage is defused by crucifixion; hatred can only be extinguished by selflessness. Beauty is never produced by “should”. The open hand is more beautiful than the clenched fist, clinging to entitlement and throwing punches at the God of grace. He is big enough to take it. He is perpetually opening his hands, his arms to welcome us back. Why do we want more? What more is there?

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