A few weeks ago, a friend and I decided to head downtown to bless people randomly. Armed with a basket of tiny chocolate chip muffins as well as Tim’s gift cards we headed down, excited, yet nervous at what we might experience God do through us. “God, help me be a vessel of your love” was my apprehensive breath prayer as I walked.
It was an interesting experience for sure. Besides the interesting characters that dot the downtown area, we found our task quite difficult! All we wanted was to put a smile on others’ faces. But we found it difficult to engage people. Most people avoided eye contact, or tried to avoid us as we attempted to gain their attention. Many people ignored our attempts at friendliness. The most surprising thing for me was to have people decline our offer at FREE muffins and a FREE gift card to Timmy’s! (Honestly, what Canadian in their right mind would do that??!)
It made me pause for thought. What if this was similar to the way that God offers people new life, abundant life, healing and freedom through relationship with Himself… and people decline, thinking there is some ‘catch’ to the offer?
God offers his love… and people think they have to earn it. Or they think they must clean themselves up first before they can receive the love.
Romans 5:8 The Message (MSG)
6-8 Christ arrives right on time to make this happen. He didn’t, and doesn’t, wait for us to get ready. He presented himself for this sacrificial death when we were far too weak and rebellious to do anything to get ourselves ready. And even if we hadn’t been so weak, we wouldn’t have known what to do anyway. We can understand someone dying for a person worth dying for, and we can understand how someone good and noble could inspire us to selfless sacrifice. But God put his love on the line for us by offering his Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to him.
God offers Himself. And people decline the offer.
Nope, they think, I don’t need “religion”. Nah, I don’t need that “crutch in life”. No way… I don’t need all the “rules” attached to God.
In a sense, I was quite stunned that when offered the free muffin or the free gift card (no strings attached… promise!) that people would not take it. I couldn’t understand why they might refuse. In the same way, I wonder if God kinda feels stunned that people won’t accept a crazy wonderful offer like His: Love personified, come to live in them. A love relationship with the amazing Being that created them, that dreamed up their existence before the creation of the world.
For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. (Eph.1:4)
I don’t know how many people accepted our muffins and our gift cards before we ran out. But perhaps this whole experience was not really about us blessing others. Perhaps God wanted to show me a little bit more about His heart towards people. Perhaps I walked away with a tiny bit more understanding about God and how He longs to bless us, and how often we refuse Him.
Jesus, in you we live and move and have our being. You certainly long to bless us with more – more love, more peace, more hope. And so often we just want to do things our way instead. And so you stand and you offer… and we refuse you. We refuse your beautiful way of doing life. Help us, please help us to see, to know, to understand how to receive all that you have for us. Amen.