We are all a great deal luckier that we realize, we usually get what we want - or near enough.
~ Roald Dahl, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
Just about everyone knows that the only way to get into Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory is with a Golden Ticket. According to the vision of Roald Dahl, you can’t enter the famous Chocolateer’s world of pure imagination without one. There are only five authentic tickets and they are hidden inside an ordinary Wonka Bar. The reclusive Wonka knows, the demand of chocolate-loving children will outweigh the supply of golden tickets and madness will likely ensue in sweet shops all around the world. Children everywhere push their parents to the brink of insanity with requests for more chocolate in hopes of winning the ultimate prize.
For the vast majority, their dream of touring the enchanted factory comes crashing down just as fast as their blood sugar levels, but the sugar rush is extended for the five Golden Ticket finders; Augustus Gloop, Violet Beauregarde, Veruca Salt, Mike Teavee and Charlie Bucket. Regardless of their circumstances or status they have gained entry into the sweetest place on the planet. Their invitation comes with a lifetime supply of chocolate and a notice that one of the five golden ticket holders will receive an additional grand prize.
Immediately upon arriving at the factory, some of the kids (with parental encouragement) begin to compete with one another trying to endear themselves to the noticeably odd Wonka. Ironically it is by jostling for supremacy that the most fierce competitors lose out on the ultimate prize. Gloop’s gluttony, Violet’s hunger for worldly status, Veruca’s greed and Teavee’s self-centeredness end up costing them greatly. Only the disadvantaged Charlie Bucket proves to be humble and docile enough to worthily inherit the fortune.
Grace, God’s free gift that enables us to know, love and serve Him is a lot like a Golden Ticket. God both announced and demonstrated by the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus, that everyone has an opportunity to receive eternal life. While it is an equal opportunity for everyone, we have to show more than a passing interest. In the parable of the sower (Matthew 13:4-8, 13:18-23), Christ reveals the large number of people who for one reason or another only show minimal or have a self-serving interest in the Gospel. A casual acquaintance doesn’t cut it when Christ desires your friendship. In other words, if you spend all your time just looking through the window at the Wonka bar your odds of obtaining a Golden Ticket are nearly zero.
Often, grace like finding a Golden Ticket is surprising and unpredictable. Some have to open hundreds of candy bars, others only have to open a handful to find it. Regardless of how many wrappers you you have discarded, finding the Golden Ticket of grace is only the beginning. Your response to the invitation of God’s grace is exponentially more important. Your soil has to be fertile in order for the seed of grace to flourish into faith. A surefire way to lose out on your inheritance is approaching the Gospel by asking “what is in it for me?” Rather, Jesus says, “Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5).”
Have you found your Golden Ticket? If so, don’t let gluttony, worldly status, greed or self-centeredness stand in the way of your heavenly inheritance. Still looking for your invitation? Stop looking at the Church from the expressway and open the door, what is inside just might surprise you.