“Slot Machine Christianity”

Does God owe us a good life if we do all the right things? Or does the gospel give us better news than this?

Chris Hutchison on July 20, 2021

Do any of these sentiments sound familiar to you?

If I raise my children in the “fear and admonition of the Lord” they will follow Christ and carry on a Christian legacy for another generation.

If I live a chaste single life, pursuing God with all my heart, he will provide a spouse for me.

If I follow Christ, surely I’ll be spared the worst tragedies (we expect suffering but not too much suffering).

If I preach the gospel faithfully, people will come to Christ and the church will grow.

Mike Emlet, in an article called “Slot Machine Christianity,” considers how “Such a mindset reveals a subtle ‘health and wealth’ pseudo-gospel whispering lies in our ear.” And what is at the heart of these lies? “We assume that if we put in enough time, effort, and faithful service—enough quarters in the slot—in the end it will turn out well for us.”

I’ve encountered these ideas often in my own heart and in the Christian community throughout my life. When my mom was dying of cancer we’d often hear things like, “I just don’t know why this is happening to such a good Christian family.” According to Emlet, that’s just another example of “slot machine” thinking.

In his article, he goes on to ask, “So how do we turn from slot machine Christianity? …It’s a lifelong process but we start by recognizing that all of life is a gift from the Lord, even the ‘quarters’ we use. It’s not our money to begin with. We’re not trying to earn God’s favor by drumming up faithful obedience. All is of grace…”

I encourage you to read the whole thing here:

I’m not sure I fully understand the appeal of slot machines. Drop a couple of quarters into the slot, pull…

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