Contemporary Western Christianity, and society in general, struggles to remain free from two insidious evils. And when moving away from either one, it’s possible to jump from the frying pan into the fire.
On one hand is the idea that everyone’s out to get you. Your parents, teachers, the government, and even God are just looking for you to mess up. As long as you toe the line perfectly you’re OK. But if you fail to live up to someone’s expectations you’re in trouble. Bad things that happen, such as sickness, poverty, or anything else undesirable, are your fault because you did something wrong. It’s the punishment mindset, and it is certain to wear you out.
The other extreme is no better. Nobody’s out to get you, but everyone owes you something. The rest of the world is primarily there for your benefit. If your life is uncomfortable or lacking in any way THEY are responsible. Your parents owe you an easy happy childhood. Your teachers owe you a good grade. The government owes you education, a job, and benefits. God owes you health and prosperity. The entitlement mentality is alive and well in our society and in the church, and it will end up seriously disappointing you.
In the Bible, Job’s friends displayed a combination of the punishment mindset and the entitlement mentality. When Job lost his livelihood, his children, and his health his friends were sure it was because Job had sinned: