Are we deserving?
I am a "Debbie Downer" when TV commercials come on. Immediately, I begin to analyze the message, the content, the intended audience (race, gender, political, socio-economic, etc). I scrutinize the commercial for religious bias and or bias toward a certain gender. I get fairly incensed when a commercial portrays dads as idiots and buffoons. Painting with too wide of a brush sets commercials on a dangerous road to the danger zone for me. TV shows are pretty much the same. I go into analysis mode. Where is the remote?
Last evening as I worked on an Easter sermon, the TV played in the background and I distinctly hear two different commercials use the same catch phrase "You deserve it". Most commercials try to sell product and the underlying tool for success is to get us to think we don't have what we need and the product they are selling will make our life complete. The commercials last evening were saying that "we deserve" to get whatever it was they were offering. It does make one take notice and listen more closely. Hmm, what are they selling that I don't have? I deserve it. I need it. I want it. My life will be perfect if I get it. All while we reach for the phone and our credit card.
Out of curiosity, I searched my Bible software for the word 'deserve' and it turned up zero hits. Both Old and New Testaments do not use the word (New International Version). I tried searching the word 'deserving' and found seven hits. Six of the seven times 'deserving' is used in scripture; it is in relation to a person not deserving to die for their sin or their actions are not 'deserving' of punishment. Only one mention of 'deserving' in a positive manner is in Matthew 10. Jesus was instructing the disciples to preach, heal, raise the dead, and promote the Kingdom of God.
"As you enter the home, give it your greeting. If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you. If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town." (Matthew 10:12-14, NIV)
There seems to be a prevailing mindset that promotes the notion we deserve everything we can get our hands on and that somehow even if we don't need an item we still deserve it. The text in Matthew 10 is describing a person who hears about God's kingdom and is receptive to the idea. The person makes a positive step toward the promise of God. Jesus told the disciples to treat receptive folks with grace and peace. They are deserving. God says, we need Him and we are left to decide if God is something we need. Many people choose to reject God. Don't need God. Don't want God. There is no God. These folks would soon find themselves on the outside looking in.
Jesus is pretty clear that some folks will reject the truth of God and promises of an eternal kingdom filled with God's presence. A stark line was drawn in the sand here by Jesus. It isn't the normative picture of Jesus we keep taped to our refrigerator door... You do have a picture of Jesus on your fridge. Right? Jesus' instruction was/is, "Shake the dust off your feet and leave that home or town." In my small mind, I like to think there is always a chance that a person will come to faith. The God I am learning of in scripture doesn't want anyone to die, so this tells me God is patient. But, God also does not bend arms to make us accept the Kingdom.
I am reminded of my Old Testament prof who once said, "While you are trying to force feed sheep who don't want your food, there are many sheep in the same pasture dying of starvation. Feed the sheep who are hungry."
At the end of the day, we deserve to die for our sins and God has provided Jesus to take our place. God then has set before humanity the one product no one can live without. It is eternal life with God in Christ. Go ahead, buy into God's promise. Do you have it? Do you need it? When you reach out to God, God finds you deserving of the Kingdom.
This commercial for the Kingdom of God has been brought to you by the Holy Bible and through God's boundless grace and justice. All
references to God and Jesus are powered by the Holy Spirit. You need not call or pay anything for the Kingdom. Act now only if you don't
have it and need it.