I remember well being a teenager and constantly coming to one of my parents to ask for something. Did I ask for things like hugs and affection? Ummm, no, I was way too cool for that! Did I ask for advice? Sometimes…but remember, I was a teen and teens know everything! Now, my 40 year old self wishes I had asked for more. Did I ask for the car keys, gas money, new school clothes, new baseball gear and food? Oh, you bet I did! More times than I can even remember…
Too often, I would forget my parents loved me unconditionally and desired to have a genuine relationship with me and instead, I saw them as my meal ticket. What’s a meal ticket, you ask? According the Webster’s, it means “a person or thing that is depended upon for money, success, etc…”.
Notice there is no hint of any kind of relationship in that definition. In fact, it sort of puts a bad taste in my mouth when I think of looking at someone in that light.
In the Bible there are two pinnacle moments where people fail to see the loving, relational, father-God and instead see Him as their meal ticket God. The first takes place in Exodus 16 where the Israelites are in the desert and they are hungry. God sends manna (bread) down from Heaven to feed them and they fail to see that this is more than just food. It is God extending himself down to them in a relational way.
The second is found in John 6 where Jesus is teaching a hungry crowd of followers and miraculously provides bread for the multitudes. Again…the people fail to see what is happening. They saw Jesus as their meal ticket and not as the one sent by God to satisfy their spiritual hunger.
It’s surprisingly easy to do…approaching God as some cosmic meal ticket who’s mere existence is to bring us success, or just provide for us the things we really want. The truth is, God does care about our success and desires. When the people of Israel were hungry in the desert, God cared. When Jesus fed the 5,000, it was done with great compassion and care. But to limit Jesus to just being there when we need something, or to bless our endeavors, is to completely miss the life and relationship he pursues us to experience.
You see, God is annoyingly relational! He will never stop pursuing you. He loves you and calls you by name. He is a good father who offers us a greater, fuller and richer life than we could ever have on our own.
The question is…will you embrace this life that God offers? Or will you simply exist by keeping Him at a distance? Remember Jesus’ words: “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never be hungry…”
Grace and Peace.