Vending Machine Religion

by Clifton Tomes

How often we hear those messages that indeed are "pleasing to the ears" but they are "turning hearts and minds" from following the truth of God's entire Word! Nowhere in God's Word are we promised that if we do "such and such," God will in turn grant every request we have.

Now mind you, there are many Scriptures that do absolutely teach positive results from following after God; however, the results of our following after God must be in keeping with His Will. There is no promise that if we give enough of our money then God will return this money many times over. Sometimes, indeed, this happens-but not because we planted seeds in expectation of a financial harvest. How some have so skillfully and "piously" turned into unscriptural paths those words of Christ, "Give and it shall be given unto you, good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over"!

One needs to read the verses preceding those words to understand what was the topic of discussion: "forgiveness" was being taught by Christ at that moment. There was no mention of our finances and there should be no "promise of returning finances" taught or preached today concerning these words of Christ. Only God knows how many countless millions of people have "sown their seed" into certain "ministries" and made countless trips to their mail box or post office only to discover "no crop."

This kind of religion is just like the vending machine that takes your money and gives you nothing in return. How many people have you seen kick the vending machine or vigorously shake it, demanding the product? How many people have you seen sign the sheet of paper posted on the vending machine saying, "you owe me…"? There's the danger of vending machine religion: becoming angry at God! Throwing fits over His neglect! Having angry thoughts that "God owes us"!

God's Word is saturated with examples of people who indeed lived, breathed, walked, and talked in full fellowship with God; yet they suffered, they were persecuted, they were tortured, they were killed; and these true people of God still maintained a "good report through faith," though never in this life did they receive anything from the "vending machine." As a matter of fact, the 11th chapter of Hebrews gives us the list of those who received and the list of those who did not receive; yet people on both lists were in full fellowship with God.

When people use God as a "vending machine" for His blessings and they don't receive what they've hoped for in return, many times these people turn completely against God.

Until the Kingdom of God comes in its full glory, with Christ ruling and reigning, give as much of your money as you desire, live as good and as close to God as you humanly can, be the kindest and dearest neighbor to all those around you-and some day you will still get sick. Some day you will die. Many days you will face disappointments. Many days you will be persecuted. I guess the best way I've ever heard it put is: "Heaven ain't here, it's There."

These aren't words people want to hear today. These aren't words people want to read today. So many people are only interested in the "pie in the sky" religion which always follows the "vending machine" philosophy. Taking some of the promises which God made specifically to certain peoples or nations and applying them to us as individuals is as ridiculous as someone taking the promise God made to Abraham and applying it to himself.

I recently was scanning through the channels and caught these words from a certain minister: "Stay tuned! In just a moment I'll be taking God's Word and showing you it is God's desire for you to be financially wealthy." Of course, as it always does, it ended with our dollars (seeds) being sown into the televangelist's garden.

How can we not sadly agree with much of the criticism this kind of "Christianity" is receiving today from a skeptical world?

Clifton Tomes is a former Baptist pastor living in Bowling Green, Kentucky.

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