You've probably figured out by now that my recently finished trip was the spawning ground of today's lesson. It was and the topic which gave birth to my thoughts was a discussion about "entitlements." Let me see if I can get onto paper what bounced around in my mind as I bounced down the highway. (The roadway needs a lot of work)
But first I must tell you the latest "Eddism." We've all heard the old student excuse "The dog ate my homework," haven't we? Well, here's a new wrinkle on that story. Eddie can't find his "cordless" telephone and is blaming his dog for eating it.
He says he was working in his back yard and thinks he laid the phone down and the dog carried it off somewhere. He said, "I have no proof she did it, but I accused her anyway and she didn't deny it." It was such a great story that I bought him another one. Hey! Maybe the dog felt she was "entitled" to it because he laid it down and I can use that as a lead-in to our thoughts here about "entitlements."
The way I see it, and a lot of commentators agree with me (I like to think that they agree with me and not the other way around) , is that "entitlement/s" is a very detrimental phenomenon that has pervaded our society for some time now. The idea that someone, for the littlest or no reason whatsoever, is "entitled" to a benefit of some sort. Almost to the degree now that if you're alive and breathing, the government (society) owes you whatever it is that you feel "entitled" to.
Would you like to know what the actual discussion on the radio was that brought these thoughts of mine to the forefront today? Okay, I'll tell you. It was the discussion of the recent lottery of 319 million dollars being won by 7 coworkers. The major point of discussion was, that there were usually 8 people who pooled their money and bought lottery tickets, but on this occasion one of the workers chose not to participate. Don't know his reason for opting out of the pool but, that's immaterial. He knowingly declined to buy his ticket/s.
What was really interesting to me though, is the vast number of people who either called in on the phone or emailed their comments and felt that he should be given an equal share of the winnings. That it should be divided up eight ways rather than seven. They felt that, because he had participated with the others in lotteries before, he is "entitled" to receive a share equal to the seven who did participate.
And it wasn't just the callers having that "entitlement" belief, a lot of the news media was saying the same thing. It was also their opinion that he was "entitled" to an equal share of the winnings. The radio station was saying that the seven winners were, basically, being bombarded by the media and others to give him "his" share. Notice the emphasis on "his," as if it should just be automatically "his" because he worked with them and had participated in the past.
Now, when it comes to religion, here's the problem as I see it. The Church, and really all of the religious world, is part and parcel of society. Don't you feel, as I do, that the mores and customs of society have a way of pervading religion? Of course it does, and this is just one aspect of the invasion of man's "ways" into the realm of God's "Way."
In this aspect, man gets to thinking that he's "entitled" to be saved, to go to heaven, because he's a good citizen, IE: not a criminal or some sort of detriment to society. I mean, he has attended church in the past. He does believe there's a God. Therefore, based on society's way of thinking, he's got an "entitlement" to the same benefits that faithful Christians receive.
There are many scriptures we could cite in refuting that line of thinking, but I'll just use a couple of short and simple ones here. In Matt. 7:21 Christ is delivering His first public sermon and he says something that we've read and heard many times, but I'm not sure if we've ever really considered all of the ramifications of what He says in that verse. He said, "Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven."
Just consider this one ramification: just because someone says they believe there's a God, doesn't gain them entry into the Church, the "kingdom," which is the only "society" that will be awarded entry into heaven. In the parlance of today's society and in keeping with our topic, they will be the "winners" and those who "DON'T DO" IE: the ones who choose not to participate, won't be given an equal share. In order to share in the "winnings" one has to "DO." (Equate to: buying a ticket.)
James also touches on this subject in his book where he writes, "But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves." (1:22) Here again, one has to "DO" and not just "hear." Jesus mentioned "speaking" and James talks about "hearing" but the admonishment by both is that "hearing and talking" isn't sufficient. You have to participate AND you have to participate according to the rules.
Here's my bottom line to all of this: God has prepared two places for the souls of everyone of this earth. I suppose we could look at these two locations and say that they are going to be occupied by those "entitled" to them. And He has determined what the qualifications are for their respective occupants. Here they are in a nutshell: those who "believe and obey" the "will of the Father" will qualify and be "entitled" to reside in paradise, in heaven for eternity.
Those who only "hear" and maybe even "talk" about it, but choose not to participate, to "believe and obey" automatically qualify for their "entitlement" to hell for eternity. Using another modern analogy, the "DOERS," the participators, are sent to God's "Primary" location and the "DO NOTS," those who for whatever reason, choose not to participate, get sent to the "DEFAULT" location.