I’m not talking about actually surviving some post-apocalyptic Earth where you find yourself unable to cook, so you have to loot the snack machines in a frantic effort to stave off starvation. I’m hoping that’s not something you’ve actually endured.
But you know those days at school or work where you missed breakfast or you had to work through lunch? That snack machine is sitting temptingly in the break room. All you have to do is put the correct amount of money in, push the right sequence of buttons and you get what you want.
Recently, our pastor
used this as a perfect illustration for many evangelicals’ attitude toward God. We have created God in the image of a snack machine.
|Photo from Flickr.com by Kristin Kurtz|
How imposing is a snack machine? Not very. It sits there waiting for you to want it. The snack machine never makes a demand of you. It just stands, out of the way, in case you get hungry. If you have a need or a desire, it is there to meet that.
We want to believe that God is that way. He’s sitting there in Heaven, out of the way, never imposing his will on our lives, just content to be there when you want him. He is easy to handle. He is non-demanding. He never tells us we are wrong. He never makes judgments. He doesn’t care how we choose to live our lives. He doesn’t exist.
That god is completely and totally fictional. He is an imaginary creation of our imagination and desires. He is what we desire God to be – our divine vending machine, our heavenly snack savior.
No, we protest. We aren’t like that. We believe in the God of the Bible. We are not so selfish as to expect God to bow to our wishes. Really? Here is where I thought our pastor’s illustration became so dead on target.
When a vending machine takes your money or gives you the wrong thing, what do you do? If you are like most people, you beat on it, you shake it, you push it around demanding that it give you what you really want.
What do you do when you don’t get the answer you want from God?
Do you shake and beat and push, demanding that He give you what you want? It’s not fair. I want that. I gave you my life, so you owe me.
We treat our very lives as if they were two quarters to slide into the coin slots of prayer and out should come the answer we are seeking. How that cheapens our life and misunderstands whose we are, besides obviously missing the point of who God is.
God is not a snack machine, ready to take your order. He is not a genie, ready to grant your wish. He is not a cosmic grandfather, ready to give out gifts to spoil all the children. He is a personal, holy, sovereign, loving, perfect, omnipotent God with an absolute moral standard that we repeatedly violate.
He does not respond to our whims because He is God and does not take orders from anyone. He, also, views our life as worth more than two quarters spent at a moment of impulse. Our prayers are so often, so petty, so cheap, so finite, so tiny.
We want to give away our lives for a temporary bag of chips, when God is telling us there is an eternal feast laid out at His table for us.
He is not our fictional snack machine savior. He is the very real holy Creator God. When we continually insist on the former, we leave no room for the latter.
You can choose a tiny bag of pretzels and a lukewarm can of Coke in the break room or you can come to the table that has been spread for a spiritual feast. You can’t have both. A pretend vending machine god or the real sovereign Ruler.
Make your selection.