Hostility, Rights, and a Sense of Entitlement

Sense of Entitlement

(Warning: This post may not be what you expect!)

A Supreme Court ruling made big news this week. The 9 justices of the highest court in the land ruled in favor of a Colorado baker, Jack Phillips, in a case where Phillips refused to create a wedding cake for a same-sex wedding.

In an interesting turn of events, both sides claimed victory.

Phillips wrote, “The Supreme Court affirmed that the government must respect my religious beliefs about marriage. It welcomed me back from the outskirts, where the state had pushed me.”

The president of the Human Rights Campaign, Chad Griffin, also claimed victory. He said, “Anti-LGBTQ extremists did not win the sweeping ‘license to discriminate’ they have been hoping for — and today’s ruling does not change our nation’s longstanding civil rights laws.”

The reason both sides could claim victory is that the ruling was narrowly based on the state’s “hostility” to Phillips’ sincere religious beliefs. Future cases to be decided by the Supreme Court will be necessary to clarify whether owners of other wedding providers (e.g. florists and wedding venues) will be free to decline provision of their services for same-sex weddings

Which brings me to a sense of entitlement…

No, I’m not referring to a sense of entitlement by same-sex couples.

I’m talking about the sense of entitlement we Christians seem to have developed. A sense of entitlement to practice our Christianity without problems, prejudice, or suffering for our faith.

Yes, the United States was birthed on the principle of religious freedom. But this nation is less than 250 years old. And for much of the past 2,000 years, Christians have not been so fortunate regarding freedom of religion.

Think about Christians during New Testament times. They were beheaded, killed by wild animals, burned alive as human torches, and crucified. Yet, I don’t recall any Bible passages demanding the right to practice religious beliefs in freedom. In fact, just the opposite is true. Even Jesus all but guaranteed we would experience suffering (John 16:33).

If anything, the Bible confirms again and again that we will suffer for our faith. Consider the following sampling:

  • John 16:33 ESV – “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
  • Romans 5:3-5 ESV – “More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”
  • 2 Timothy 3:12 ESV – “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”
  • James 1:2-4 ESV – “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
  • 1 Peter 4:12-16 ESV – “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.”
  • 1 Peter 5:10 ESV – “And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.”

We’ve been spoiled by the freedoms we’ve had in this nation. And yes, of course we have the right to seek redress according to the rule of law. But if and when that fails, are we also ready to suffer for our faith?

As Christians, before we complain about the sense of entitlement held by those who disagree with us, perhaps it’s time to examine the sense of entitlement hidden in our own heart.

We might be surprised by what we discover.

What do you think?

A Sense of Entitlement

I deserve this.

I earned it.

It’s my right.

A sense of entitlement. We see it in political debates about whether certain government benefits are a “gift” or have been earned.

We see it in marriages and other relationships as individual people focus more on their rights than on the relationship.

We see it in our culture as people promote their own right to privacy over the sacredness of someone else’s life.

We even see it in our relationship with God, although we don’t always admit it.

But a sense of entitlement isn’t a new wrinkle in human development. I’ve recently been studying the ancient Israelites, and their sense of entitlement was as strong as ours today. First they complained about a lack of food. Well, okay, I can understand a desire for daily sustenance in the middle of the desert. But after a year of God miraculously providing daily food in the form of manna, they complained about a lack of variety!

That account started me thinking. How often do I carry a sense of entitlement into my relationship with God? Of course, I don’t call it that. Instead, I say things such as:

It’s not fair!

Why did this have to happen to me?

When is this suffering going to end?

One of the names of our great God is Adonai, the sovereign Lord. It means He is in control. Because I’m a Christian, He is not only the sovereign Lord, He is my sovereign Lord.


Each time I complain about my circumstances, in effect I’m saying I know better than He does about what is best. That’s a bit arrogant on my part, isn’t it? My finite assessment versus the viewpoint of the infinite, sovereign Creator of the universe.

I may claim to trust God’s leading and provision, but I’m ashamed to say, too often I allow my situation to distract me from remembering His faithfulness. Like the ancient Israelites, I grumble and complain, not because I don’t believe He is Lord, but because I don’t like the circumstances my Lord has engineered for me.

The sense of entitlement I criticize in others is just as ugly in me.

The demand for my rights to be honored is just as conceited in me.

Worst of all, every time I complain about what the Lord has allowed in my life, I become arrogance personified.

But demanding what I deserve is not really what I want. Because if God were to give me what I deserved, it would mean living without the assurance of His salvation through Jesus Christ. The result would be spiritual death and eternal separation from Him. It would mean living without His Spirit, His love, and His guidance.

I may be foolish at times, but I’m not stupid. I don’t want what I deserve. Thankfully, in God’s mercy, He doesn’t give me what I deserve. And that’s just fine with me.