On one of my recent flights, a very disgruntled passenger was loudly complaining that she had been re-routed because of weather and she was MAD. She had requested a window seat on the flight she had originally booked, but she was given an aisle seat on the re-route. At first she refused to take her seat, blocking the aisle so that people had to try to get around her to board. She actually delayed our take-off with her nonsense. Then she rang her flight attendant call button and argued with a very polite flight attendant, who could do nothing because the flight was full and all the window seats were taken. The woman kept getting louder and louder, and all of us sitting near her were uncomfortable and embarrassed.
Finally, a second flight attendant came from the back and leaned over and spoke to the man who was seated at the window seat in the row behind her. He bent over the seats and said something to the man in a conspiratorial behind-the-hand way. The man looked up at the row signs and got a big grin and nodded “yes”. The flight attendant then told the obnoxious woman that the gentleman in the window seat behind her had graciously offered to trade seats. “Well, thank you mister, and no thanks to Delta!”, she harrumphed as they made the seat switch.
As I watched this exchange, I realized why the fellow was grinning. The agent at the woman’s departure airport who had handled her re-direct had upgraded her. The aisle seat was actually in Comfort Plus. Comfort Plus is an upgraded section in the first several rows behind First Class. This section has wider seats, more leg room, free movies and games, a snack basket with a variety of premium snacks, and free adult beverages. Naturally, Comfort Plus costs more. The row behind her, where he had been sitting, was the first row of Economy with none of these perks. So she got the window seat she had demanded….in Economy. The generous fellow got several free glasses of wine, lots of free snacks, and a much better seat, while the woman got what she deserved.
We live in a culture that is plagued with an Entitlement Disorder. It’s the 11th Plague. Moses thought he had it bad! Actually, his people suffered from Entitlement Disorder also. Remember what they said after God delivered them from slavery in Egypt to the Promised Land? They complained, “at least we had something to eat in Egypt!” Entitlement Disorder has been with us for thousands of years.
People feel entitled to everything nowadays, and if they don’t get what they think they deserve, somebody has to pay. If we had a modern day beatitude, it would probably be, “Blessed are the aggressive, for they shall get what they want.” It is a push-to-the-front of the line mentality that goes against everything Christ calls us to be.
In the 10th Chapter of Mark, we see this unusual exchange between James, John and Jesus.
35 James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came forward to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” 36 And he said to them, “What is it you want me to do for you?” 37 And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” 38 But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking.
42 So Jesus called them and said to them, “You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. 43 But it is not so with you; whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. 45 For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.”
NOT SO WITH YOU. You are a part of me, and I came to be a servant. I came to serve, not to be served. The greatest of you will be the one who is the servant of all. The gentiles have authorities over them who report to authorities over them, but my Kingdom will have no chain of command. Why? Because mine is a Kingdom of love. And love doesn’t seek position, it SERVES.
As we begin a new week together, let’s covenant to put God’s agenda first. Find someone who needs the better chair and trade places. Seek out a place to let someone else go first. Hold a door open, let someone in front of you in traffic, volunteer at the food pantry, skip worship and go hold a baby in the nursery….(yes, I said skip worship)…put someone’s needs before your own. And may we do it all with a servant’s cheerful and generous heart! Don’t be a James or a John. Be a Jesus.
Sunset at the lake in Peachtree City, GA. Photo by Kathy Schumacher.