Why do we, as Western Christians, feel entitled to God’s blessings? Are we meant to serve or be served by God?
Luke 2:39 When Joseph and Mary had done everything required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee to their own town of Nazareth.
They could have felt divinely entitled and fully excused of their religious commitments. After all, Joseph and Mary were charged with the responsibility of protecting, raising, and rearing Jesus, the Son of God, so they could have been given some slack.
Instead, they chose to fulfill what the Law of the Lord required – offering a sacrifice, presenting Christ to the Lord in the Jerusalem temple, and having Him circumcised. They decided to show how dedicated they were and how honored they felt at being chosen for this holiest of callings. They would not claim any special bonuses or blessings from God. They would not demand that their wants be met or their commitment be recognized. They would simply submit to the Lord and remain grateful for the privilege they had been given.
Sadly, in our sophisticated Western Christianity, I see much of the reverse. Mega-church preachers and TV evangelists proclaim a Gospel of entitlement, success, and prosperity. Thousands of people turn up with their notebooks each week to glean words that will give them the scriptural secrets to making their dreams come true. Millions of viewers tune in to listen to this type of glossy Good news in order to make them feel better about their lives. There’s a sickness in their souls and a Gospel of greed possesses them. They want to be empowered, encouraged, and entertained, not confronted, challenged, or changed.
Joseph and Mary endured many hardships and experienced deep sorrows for accepting God’s call. They endured the scorn of their community when people first realized that Mary was pregnant. They experienced humiliation when they couldn’t find a place to have their baby born. They had to leave their country behind to go and become political refugees in Egypt. Even when they eventually returned to Nazareth, Joseph may have died young, leaving Mary to raise Jesus and the rest of the family. And finally Mary had to watch her grown Son die in a shameful, horrific, and painful way.
They accepted their calling and never felt entitled to health, wealth, or success. They served God fully and faithfully, doing what they were told and honoring Him. They sought service over success, sincerity over insecurity, and willingness over wealth. God chose them perfectly and wisely because they had the potential, character, and commitment to do what pleased Him.
There’s a lesson here for all of us and the challenge is this – are we willing to serve or be served? Is our faith all about God or about us? We know what the answers should be, but are we ready to let God make what could be with our lives?
Prayer: Lord God, thank You for the examples of faith, commitment, and service that Mary and Joseph showed in the past. Enable us to embrace that kind of holy calling and sacred service to You. In Christ’s Name, we pray. Amen.