Vending-Machine Theology

Vending-Machine Theology

If you put money into a vending machine, you expect to get something out of it. Sometimes the mechanism fails and you do not get your expected return. When this happens, you may find yourself getting angry. A common response is to whack the side of the machine, call it a name, and storm off.
Unfortunately, many people approach our Lord in this way. They send up prayers like dropping coins into a slot, giving very specific instructions on what they want in return.

A fairly common reason people give when asked why they don’t believe in God is, “I prayed for help and He didn’t answer my prayer.” Be it the recovery of a loved one from illness, rescue from a bad situation, or some other tragic event. While I do not dispute that whatever this person endured was a very bad experience, getting angry at God because of it is not a reasonable response.

When people say this, they are in essence saying, “I told God what to do and He didn’t do it, so I don’t like Him anymore.” It is both pouty and presumptuous to think we can tell the Lord of the Universe how things should be done, then stalk off in a huff when He does not see things our way.

The Bible is extremely clear that becoming a believer only increases your likelihood for suffering. Nowhere in scripture is salvation offered as a “get out of problems free” card. Instead Jesus says,

"You have heard that it was said, 'YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you… - Matthew 5:43-44 (NKJV)

We generally get stuck on the part where we’re told to be nice to people who are mean to us. However if you read beyond that, you see Jesus lists things that are likely to happen to His true followers. People will hate us. We will be unjustly accused and injured (which is ‘spitefully used’ in modern language), and we should expect persecution. This doesn’t sound like a promise of life in a patch of daisies.

Do not marvel, my brethren, if the world hates you. -1 John 3:13 (NKJV)

The New Testament is full of encouragement to those who are being persecuted. They were being burned alive, torn apart by lions for the entertainment of others, and hunted like criminals; yet they did not give up their faith.

I pray that anyone who has bought into the vending-machine lie would visit the scriptures. Search and you will see that the Lord promises us to be with us in our struggles, not exempt us from them. He will send His Holy Spirit to help us endure hard times if we only turn to Him.

“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." -John 16:33 (NKJV)