Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Oct. 18 sermon: Entitlement Complex

Sorry, my ipod ran out of space this week before I started the sermon. Here are the notes:

Texts: Philippians 3: 8-11
Mark 10: 35-45


At first blush, James and John’s request is positively repugnant in it’s overt request for glorification. We point at it and we say, what an entitlement complex. And of course we may be right.

Nothing disgusts the hard working, salt of the earth types more than an entitlement complex. Everywhere around us, it seems that the world is suffering because of the general entitlement complex that pervades the culture. We see the big banks and the big companies taking billion dollar bailouts and then frittering away the money on fat bonuses and God knows what else, and we say to ourselves, “what an entitlement complex.”

We look at teenage culture today, with kids seemingly sitting around all day playing video games instead of working a part time job while in school, like we did, and then whining when they don’t get this or that, and we say, “entitlement complex!”

Then we look at James and John, and the presumtuousness of walking up to Jesus and saying, “Teacher, we want for you to do for us whatever we ask of you,” and it smacks of an…..entitlement complex.

Perhaps our world does suffer from an overabundance of entitlement complexes, and perhaps that fact puts us alongside the other 10 disciples who berate James and John for asking such a thing of Jesus.

But before we side with the 10, perhaps it does us good to identify with the two for just a moment.

After all, what is so different from the two asking for Jesus to “do whatever we ask of you” and the way that we typically approach Jesus, as a wishing well that we can throw a quarter into and make a wish?

How often do we approach our Lord and master with a request for our own benefit, rather than with a plea to be put to use for the Kingdom?

From Will Willimon sermon http://day1.org/1474-good_news
Passed by a church the other day that had a sign out front that proclaimed, "Celebrate Recovery!" Come, celebrate recovery, redemption, joy with us!
Ever seen a church with a sign out front that read, "Come! Be Crucified! We've Got a Cross that Fits Your Back Too!"
And yet, Jesus was upfront. Can't accuse Jesus of false advertizing. "You will drink the cup that I drink; you will be baptized with my baptism."

When I was in campus ministry, a fellow campus minister asked me to participate in a baptism of a graduate student. The grad student was from China. He had been attracted to the Christian faith while a student at Duke. I had met him once or twice before. Well, I joyfully participated in the baptism of the student. And I thought it a bright idea to bring my camera and take a few pictures after the baptism.
"You can send these pictures to your family back in China," I said. "You can share your baptism day with your friends at home," I said as I maneuvered everyone into place for the snapshots. I noticed that the group looked a little shy and awkward, but they all stood together as I took my pictures.

After the baptism the campus minister said to me, "Oh, that was embarrassing, you with your camera and all."
"Embarrassing? Why?" I asked.

"Well, because now that he's baptized, his life has been ruined. His parents say that they will disinherit him. The government will probably take away his scholarship. He can't show those pictures to anybody back home. His life as he knew it is over; he's been baptized into Jesus."
And, you know, when he said that, I thought of today's text. "You will be baptized with my baptism...." (end of snippet from Willimon sermon)

Baptized with his baptism means putting ourselves into conflict with the powers of evil in this world.

We are able, when we say with Paul that “it is no longer I who liv3es, but Christ in me.”

The Christ who lives within us lives to serve instead of to serve. Perhaps this is why Jesus cannot tell james and John about the seats of honor, because Jesus has no thought of the throne to begin with.

Instead of thinking about being “served” and lording it over everyone else, Jesus is thinking about serving.

Interperter’s Bible (818) When we graduate from the passive voice to the active voice……….

‘the Highest achievement in life is to get out of the passive voice into the active. It is the great divide wihich some people never cross.

We all begin, of course, in the passive voice. We are acted upon before we act. We are loved before we love. We are served, in ways beyond count, before we serve.

By how many are we ministered to, all th way from astronomers tand poets to bus operatiors and garbage collectors! Yet a life’s most significant graduation day comes when we graduate into the active voice.

And so few ever do: ever really come to moral maturity. The aim of the grteat ones’ whom jesus repudiated, was to keep themselves in the passive voice, to be waited upon, ministered to, forever on the receiving end, never on the giving end.

It is indicative of the entitlement complex that this emphasis on “being served” infects the brain until we really and truly believe that the highest achievement in life would be to have everything done for us, for us to “get” everything we want.

That is the surest way to miss life in its largest possibilities. Only when we get life across this great divide do we touch its highest glory or its deepest Joy. Christian experience begins in the passive voice. We are called, saved, loved. It must go on to the active voice of those great verbs: call, save, love.

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