This evening I was catching up on some reading for books that I’ve been working on for review. I am way behind on them… But I came across an illustration about how some people tend to view and wish our relationship with God were little more than a vending machine. We’d put our coin in, press the buttons to communicate our desires and start the transaction, and then expect what we want to be delivered. All of this in a matter of seconds. Well, being the visual person I am, I began thinking about illustrating this illustration. That in turn got me actually thinking about our relationships with God, and I realized that the vending machine metaphor isn’t too far off from reality, but it isn’t as dirty as reality actually is.
Our walk with God, in many people’s minds isn’t any different than any other consumer driven, commercial transaction. It comes in many different forms, financial giving, volunteer work, spiritual guidance, and intercessor prayer, all in the hope than our spiritual currency can help sway the bargaining process with God to purchase what we want. There are some people that seek out relationships with others based on what they can gain from the other person, but most of us don’t do this when it comes to our day-to-day relationships. Many of us despise the opportunistic networking relationships.
So, why do we model our relationship with God like that?
I’m not friends with John because he gives me beer. If that were the reason I have a relationship with John, then I’m effectively saying my time and energy is worth beer. I’m whoring out my emotional energy and limited time to someone for nothing more than beer. Outside of those times that he does have beer, which I’m hoping isn’t all of the time, my relationship with John would be very unstable. Many of us treat our relationship with God along the same lines. We’re best friends and talk on a daily basis while things are really spiritually energetic after God gave us a glimpse of what he has. We talk for hours through dramatic prayers whenever we are in trouble, or we are having bad times and need help, expecting something from God. But our everyday deal is void of God.
What God has to offer us is amazing, and we should desire what he has to offer us, but it isn’t always going to be what we expected, or even wanted. Because of those moments that we didn’t get what we wanted, or thought we needed, when we asked for it, our relationship with God become a bartering based system. When we do things for, and spend time with, God only while we need things, we’re no longer allowing God to work in our lives through our faith. What we’re allowing ourselves to conclude is that God’s work in our lives is a result of our dedication and relationship with God. The miracles in our lives at that point come as a result of our own work. Because of that often times the solution and result of our outcry is nothing like what we expected, simply because God’s work in our lives isn’t the result of our own actions.
Our relationship is often too distant the majority of the time, and as a result it is difficult to come back into alignment with God during our desperate times. Resulting is blind and selfish desires while bargaining with God. I want to constantly strive to continue in my relationship with God on a daily basis, as I would with any other valuable personal relationship. I want to know the ins and outs and the details of my life from the perspective of a close friend, God, so that when the hard times hit, I’m asking something I already know a friend is willing to provide. God will provide, not as a result of anything I will do or have done, but as the result of my heart already know what He wants and wishes to do.
At no point should we whore our relationship with God away to cope with the hardships and stresses of this temporary life. That relationship should mean so much more to us. I don’t want to ever give myself the opportunity to believe that God’s work and miracles in my life are the result of anything I’ve done, but they are simply an expression of God’s love.