on Christian entitlement attitudes

Posted: April 26, 2016 in Uncategorized

Lately in my adventure of listening to the Bible in a year, I’m hearing about the tribes of Israel finally moving into the Promised Land after 40 years of desert time.  The thing that blows my little mind about the Bible is how, no matter how many times I read any given section, something new will turn up the next time I come to it; this time is no different.

Amidst a recitation of which tribe got which territory (which can get downright mind-numbing, with its recitation of border points), one tribe – the descendants of Joseph – are not pleased with the section they are given.  There are so many of us!  they complain. they moan.  The area you’ve assigned to us is full of people we can’t possibly conquer – they have iron chariots!  We need a different territory.  Come.  ON.  

Joshua is only slightly sympathetic.  He assigns them an additional portion, which happens to be the forests of the hill country.  Get busy, he tells them.  There are enough of you to clear trees, and enough of you to run those folks out of the valleys, even with their iron chariots.

This story jumped out at me from the litany of border markings, because I recognized a familiar attitude we tend to have as we follow Christ – an entitlement attitude that assumes if I am a Christian, things should come more easily to me.  A page from the prosperity gospel.  The idea that believing in Him should be enough to earn me the goodies I want – that His highest and best design for my life is one in which I am comfortable and I get to win without having to try.

“God wants me to be happy.”  A lady said that once a long time ago in a Bible study I was attending, and the grizzled dude who taught us all shut that one down dead.  He was pretty sure that God’s first intention is not “making us happy.”  Following Christ WILL lead to situations that are uncomfortable, that are hard work, that are not where we want to be in the moment.  It’s not really a pursuit-of-happiness thing.

Awhile back I used to enjoy watching the show “House Hunters” once in awhile.  I stopped after a bit because I get too frustrated with the entitlement attitude of people who have a million dollars to spend but are so lazy or lacking in imagination that they can’t deal with a house not being move-in-ready.  Some will not want to pick a house because of the color of a room.  It’s called PAINT, people!  When I found myself yelling that at the TV and feeling provoked, I decided it was time to stop with House Hunters.

The descendants of Joseph are a little like that in this story.  They don’t want to clear trees and they don’t want to fight for their territory.  They want to find it move-in ready.  They want Joshua to solve the issue with a reassignment, rather than asking them to work hard and use their collective might and trust the God who brought them out of the desert.

I don’t want to notice that I am like this, but I am, and maybe you are too.

If we’re following Jesus, shouldn’t all obstacles just fall away?

Nope.

If we belong to Him, shouldn’t we get what we want without having to struggle for it?

Nope.

Sometimes God gives us the hill country, full of trees that need cleared, and valleys full of imposters who need driven out.  Sometimes the gift He hands us requires tremendous amounts of faith and effort and perseverance.  Sometimes the territory He chooses for us brings with it striving, sweat, and pain.

I’m gonna work on remembering the descendants of Joseph, the next time I’m tempted to whine at God about stuff not moving more easily.  I’m gonna try to remember:  maybe He’s just got work for me to do.

I’m gonna try.

 

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