“Vending Machine Jesus”

Entitlement is a pretty widespread problem in our culture. Especially among the younger generation. Almost everywhere I look, I see people upset because they didn’t get what they “deserved” or someone else “owes” them. If you take even 15 seconds to think about it, I’m sure you will recognize this pattern.

“I’m entitled to a high paying, good job no matter my education, experience, or age.”

“I’m entitled to government funds and benefits.”

“I deserve happiness and rewards.”

“I deserve respect even if my behavior is bad.”

“People owe me tolerance, despite my intolerance.”

And worst of all…

God owes me.

Working with youth throughout the years has been a major eye-opener. The aura of entitlement generated by today’s culture carries over into the worst possible place: God. People act like God owes them. I’ve seen it first hand and have fallen into the thinking myself!

That’s why I tend to use the term “vending machine Jesus” with youth. They resonate well with putting a couple quarters in a machine for a sweet or salty prize. Put some money in, and a snack comes out.

But the problem comes when we expect Jesus to operate the same way. Put a prayer in and your way comes out! Put virginity in and a happy marriage comes out! Put a worship song in and a feel-good emotions come out! Put a quiet time in and a pain-free day comes out! Put a prayer of salvation in and Heaven comes out! Put a little money in the offering plate and blessing comes out! Put a Christian retreat in and passion for Jesus comes out! Put a church service in and God’s approval comes out….etc. You get the point…

I’m pained to say that this is the pervasive view of a relationship with Christ among young people. The obvious problem with this way of thinking is undermined grace. If God responds to our “good deeds” and “Jesus suck-ups” then there is literally no point in the cross. Christ going to the cross was superfluous if all we need to do to earn favor is put a few quarters in the slot.

Although that is the obvious problem, it’s not even the one I want to talk about today. It would make a great topic for another time.

What is bothering me is that sacrifice for anything is a dying concept.

Sacrifice for anything is a dying concept.

As hand outs are becoming easier to grab, work-ethic, passion, and sacrifice are harder to find. We have made reward too easy to come by. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about rewarding and giving credit where credit is due…but let’s be honest…the fight for equality (in all spheres) has made credit abound in all the wrong places.

And it breaks my heart to see the youth of today discouraged because they didn’t get what they deserved from God and leaving the faith because they “did the deeds” and there was no reward.

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God… Romans 12:1

To experience the reward of a satisfying life with Christ, we have to lay our own selves down. We have to be willing to turn our back on ourselves and make our sole purpose about bringing glory to Him. Not about receiving the handouts.

“Too much to ask” you say? Well, not really. Jesus became the perfect example of sacrifice when He made the ultimate sacrifice for you. Romans 5:8 says He “died for us.”

You may get a hand out trophy for meager participation, or a raise of minimum wage, or free abortions, or a pass on a grade, but I can assure you that God won’t give you the blessings of a relationship with Him if the sacrifice isn’t mutual. And it is wrong to expect him to.

There are incredible benefits of walking through life with Jesus! His grace and mercy is absolutely unbelievable. I literally cannot put into words how incredible God’s tangible love is toward His children. When you do decide to lay everything down for Him? Wow. You won’t be disappointed.

Psalm 51:17 ” The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”

In other words, the sacrifice required is repentance that leads to change. Sorrow over sin that drives us to the feet of Jesus and propels a life of faith based in His righteousness alone.

Not do-gooders.

I must be honest. It is easy for me to slip unaware into this trap. For example, I might have a really nice time of prayer in the morning, then experience temptation later and think, “Lord, why would you let this happen to me? I thought I was going to have a good day!”

Ridiculous.

How do you fight entitlement in your relationship with the Lord? And how can we battle the idea of vending machine Christianity?

 

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