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Individualism and Entitlement

Last night Luturgical Chapel, campus pastor Jamie Noling made a good point. She began by saying that when our cars break down, we buy new cars. If we have friends who anger or us treat us with contempt, we leave those friends to find new friends. As we have more children, parents often choose to move to house that is more accommodating to their needs. Finally, when worship music or some other issue is to our dislike in church, we find a new church.

But how, she asks, can we respond when God doesn’t give us what we want? We are used to “inalienable rights” that are endowed by divine providence in America. No one can take these rights from us. Even if our enemies hate us, they cannot, at least in America, treat us unfairly without the prospect of civil justice hitting their doorstep. We live in a culture where people get what they deserved, work to achieve, and in our churches we believe in a theological doctrine of entitlement–as though we know the best way to run the world.

But what, if anything, can we do when God does not act like a coke machine or a jukebox–not playing the songs we want to hear? Can we exchange God like a house for a God that more readily accommodates our needs? Can we exchange God like a car for one that runs a bit smoother–a big more comfortably?

What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! For he says to Moses, ‘I will have mercy on whom I have mercy…”
-Romans 9

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