« what is the un.entitled project? »
a modern-day restoration movement seeking to create a conversation & community that renounces all spiritual entitlement, reclaims our humble heritage and restores Christ’s upside-down kingdom. || a gospel manifesto & pilgrimage of the meek and poor in spirit—pursuing a selfless society in a world grasping for power, privilege & self-preservation.
Entitlement has been the source of nearly every great injustice throughout history; it has caused countless conflicts, wars, genocides and has corrupted the human hearts of millions of people since the dawn of time. It is into this milieu that the Christian Gospel is uniquely poised to exhibit Christ’s upside-down kingdom. Instead of seeking our own security and comfort on this earth, we are called to a lifestyle of willing sacrifice, humble submission, and selfless surrender—to model an “unentitled” heart in a world torn apart by entitlement.
The clearest expression of Christ’s poverty of spirit, which we are called to emulate, is Philippians 4:“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
Adam and Eve were tempted in the Garden of Eden by a fruit which was said to “make them like God.” In grasping for this equality with God, they displayed a fundamental misunderstanding of what it meant to be made in God’s image. By contrast, Jesus surrendered His divine entitlement to power, authority and dominion—by emptying himself of all His rights and privileges of acting as God. Our Savior did not come to show us a way to pursue more power, privilege or possessions, but instead shows us that the true nature of God is in laying all of these things down for the sake of the last and the least.
Christ invites us to follow him down the path of meekness and self-sacrifice and calls us to a selfless ambition. In this way, His kenosis was not concealing or emptying any of His divine attributes, but rather maintaining a continual, inward self-denial of His divine entitlement (His right to act as God). He did this to show His image-bearers that the true nature of God does not grasp or cling to power and privilege; but denies Himself and ultimately lays down His life.
However, while Christianity was founded on humble principles, Christendom has itself become entangled in many secular systems of political power, socio-economic privilege, and systemic self-preservation. While this Gospel speaks of an upside-down kingdom where beggars are blessed and the meek inherit the earth, history shows it is all too easy for Christians to become entangled in manmade systems and worldly pursuits of health, wealth and happiness or political, economic and social power. The root of this syncretism, I would argue, is a sense of spiritual entitlement. The Church often pursues the #blessed American Dream of safety, comfort security, survival, and self-sufficiency—while the Cross demands surrender to God and selfless submission to man.
Christianity is a religion modeled after Jesus, and yet many of Christ’s followers reject His Way of self-denial and self-sacrifice. The Beatitudes in Matthew 5’s Sermon on the Mount speak of an upside-down kingdom where beggars are blessed and the meek inherit the earth. But instead of seeking spiritual poverty, many Christians are often rich in spirit. Much of the modern-day Church struggles with spiritual entitlement, the Cross demands our unconditional surrender to God and selfless submission to man. Faith is a costly challenge for all believers, demanding us to lay down our lives in unconditional love without expectations or reservations. But what does it really mean to be poor in spirit? Of all the beatitudes, I feel like this is one of the most misunderstood or often ignored completely.
If the kingdom of heaven belongs to the poor in spirit and the meek will inherit the earth, that hardly sounds like a recipe for self-preservation. If our goal is to seek and maintain earthly security through power, comfort, wealth or even rights and privileges – then Christ is not the Way, the Truth or the Life for us. We must be careful then, as followers of Christ, not to align ourselves with the world’s value system, for when we become one with Christ, we marry into his value system and his economy. The more we have, the more we have to lose and the less we want to lose it it—whether that be popularity, notoriety or monetary security. In a world that pursues power, privilege, and self-preservation, how do we embrace the same inner soul posture Jesus modeled for His followers?