Very often I pass church, temple or mosque and see crowds outside. Initially I used to think that God must be so pleased to have so many worshipping him, till I realized very few came to worship, most came to barter with him, “God, please give me a promotion, and I will give you my whole month’s salary!” or “I will come to church every Sunday!” or “I will give up smoking or drinking!”
Says writer Ben Edwards, ‘We’ve all heard it, and most of us have either thought it, or even prayed it.” “God, if You do this thing I currently want, then I’ll do something I probably should do but haven’t.” We find ourselves in a situation we don’t like or lacking something we crave, yet we feel incapable of attaining our desire. Thus, we turn to someone we believe is capable of accomplishing what we want and hope God will show us favor.
And that’s how the world works; people want something in return for something done or given. People don’t just give away favors. They want something in return. So we begin to barter with others when we are seeking their favors.
We started doing this when we were young, trading our veg sandwiches for our friend’s non-veg. The other person has something we want—either an item or the ability to accomplish something, so we offer him something we think he wants. In our society the most common bartering item is money—you give me something and I give you money in exchange. But we occasionally offer other goods or services, housing and food in exchange for childcare; use of vehicles in exchange for professional work, etc. In each situation, the offer is successful only if both parties have something the other lacks or needs.
But there’s a problem when we try to barter with the Divine. God doesn’t lack or need anything!
The truth that God does not need anything is part of a larger truth of God’s self-sufficiency. This means that God’s existence comes from Himself, thus He is not dependent on anyone or anything else.
You are wasting your time bartering with Him. And if in the process of doing this bartering, you get something you asked for, it is because of God’s grace, and his love for you and not for anything you promised in return.
So what does God want? He wants you to have a change of heart. He wants you to become pure like He is. He wants you to give up the things that make Him sad.
Next time you go to worship Him, come out a changed person, come out with a transformed heart and that is the only barter the Divine knows, and wants: Exchanging your old self and getting a new self in return..!
Robert Clements is a newspaper columnist and author. He blogs at www.bobsbanter.com and can be reached at [email protected]