“So the last will be first, and the first will be last.” – Matthew 20:16 (NRSV)
I’ve been thinking a lot about entitlement.
When you are entitled to something, it means you have a right to that thing. And when we have rights to things, that means we can set expectations about them.
This gets problematic, though, when someone assumes the right to something that they do not have the right to. These entitlement assumptions go hand-in-hand with privilege. In fact, I’d say there is a direct proportion between level of privilege and level of entitlement.
Jesus is well-familiar with privilege and entitlement.
The laborers with the good jobs—the ones who woke up in the morning knowing just where they would get food to fill their bellies that morning and where they would rest their heads that night—were annoyed when the poor got to join them in their space. This happens with people whose entitlement is misplaced; they live and breathe scarcity. And because they expect the benefits to be limited, they want to limit the bounty just for themselves.
And Jesus says: You know what? This is misplaced entitlement.
Scarcity thinking is so easy to fall into. Once our fears are triggered—“There won’t be enough for me, let me hoard, let me block”—we will go to great lengths to hold on to everything to which we think we’re entitled.
But Jesus says: No.
No. You don’t have to think that way.
I know you think there won’t be enough Jesus to go around.
But there always will be.
God knows nothing of those limitations.
Thank you, God, for your boundless love. Help us to trust that you have it all. And then some.
Kaji Douša is the Senior Pastor of The Park Avenue Christian Church, a congregation of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the United Church of Christ, in New York City.