Presence vs. Presents

… Do not seek Me primarily for what I can give you. Remember that I, the Giver, am infinitely greater than any gift I might impart to you. Though I delight in blessing My children, I am deeply grieved when My blessings become idols in their hearts. Anything can be an idol if it distracts you from Me as your First Love. When I am the ultimate Desire of our heart, you are safe from the danger of idolatry. As you wait in My Presence, enjoy the greatest gift of all: Christ in you, the hope of Glory!

-Romans 12:2; Revelation 2:4; Colossians 1:27 (Jesus Calling, March 27)

I know this is something that a lot of Christians struggle with, the idea of God as Himself, His presence, versus being a spiritual vending machine: put good works in, get blessings out. It may even have to do with the spiritual low I was talking about before: how I just couldn’t find a reason for God. Perhaps it’s because I relate God too much with what He does for me, rather than with who He is. The reason why this is so necessary is because these days, His Presence and His presents have become synonymous, a misconception that we can all see through the judgmental and unsympathetic history of the church. It was (and unfortunately, still is) often said that if bad things happen to you, God is mad at you. If good things happen to you, then you are in favor with God. Or, to put a modern spin on it, because bad things happen, God does not exist; it is easy to believe that God exists when good things happen to you.

For me, this directly relates to how I felt as though I couldn’t “feel” God off campus. Almost as if the blessings turned off because I didn’t need them. But this is a lesson I need to learn (and so I’ll share it with you as well): that God’s Presence is not dictated by or reduced to His presents.

But how do we change that ideology? From when we were little we learned that if we put a quarter in the bucket, God will bless us. If we give a dollar to the homeless man, God will be happy, and therefore bless us. If we pray, and we live good lives, we will please God, and therefore be blessed by Him. How do we remove God from the blessing vending machine?

Love Him. That was what God showed me this morning as I meditated on this issue. Think about it: if you’ve loved your mom, or your dad, it’s not as important what they give you as long as they talk with you, walk with you, laugh with you, play with you. I would often do things just so that I would get a smile from my mom. Getting a hug from my dad was HUGE. “I knew you could do it, Elewa!” he would say as he wrestled playfully with me, throwing me (or attempting to as I got older) into the air and making me feel so special. I didn’t get anything there but love. But it was more than if he just said, “Great, let me get you a new Lego set” (and I love me my Lego sets).

But how do we love God? That’s worth a whole ‘nother post entirely, but I’ll begin answering that question with this: “If you love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). There are so many ways in which we can love God, for there are so many ways that He loves us. And no, it’s not just through blessing us or when you just “feel” His Love, but also when He teaches us, instructing us. It says in Mark 10:21: Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.” He did this in LOVE! Perhaps we have a misconception of not just who God is and what it means for us to love Him, but what it is for Him to love us.

I haven’t really come to any conclusions – I’m still learning myself. But I thought I’d share so that more people can process these questions with me, and hopefully experience God’s love through revelation of these lessons. 🙂


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One thought on “Presence vs. Presents

  1. […] once said before that God is not a spiritual vending machine. And yet, I suppose that mentality is more deeply […]

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