We all have expectations. When our expectations are not met, we are often disillusioned or disappointed or both. Sometimes our expectations get us into trouble with others. Their expectations may not be the same as ours. Friends and fellow Christians may not acknowledge or even know our expectations. On the other hand, we may get into disagreements or have problems because of the expectations of others. We may fail, knowingly or unknowingly, to meet their expectations. Too often we judge or are judged accordingly. We need to be careful with expectations.
Many Christians expect and often assume all Christians to be politically conservative. They also have the idea that we Christians can change our society morally and spiritually through a politically conservative (usually Republican) agenda. Tony Carnes is a senior news writer for "Christianity Today" who worked for the Moral Majority from 1980 through 1985. He brings an interesting perspective to this expectation. He recently wrote the following:
“The deeper I got into Scripture on what God expects of sinful, unredeemed men and women, the more I realized that there is no trickle-down morality. The church should make disciples and not change culture. Paul didn't say, 'Change the culture.'
"There is no reason that the unregenerate mind should be
sympathetic to what we want. So, it becomes a political power game. Each side
tries to beat the other side. The truth is not advanced. Believers fear the
anti-Christ; pagans fear the Christians.
"If the church is doing its job, it automatically affects society. Government and political power are limited."
Another area of misguided expectations is the area of expectations about the church. People outside the church, as well as many on the inside, have unrealistic ideas about what a church should be like. And often these expectations are then used to criticize church members or as an excuse for not attending church. Eugene Peterson is a Biblical scholar who authored "The Message," a new modern translation of the Bible. In his introduction to the book of James, he wrote the following: "When Christian believers gather in churches, everything that can go wrong sooner or later does. Outsiders, on observing this, conclude that there is nothing to the religion business except, perhaps, business—-and dishonest business at that. Insiders see it differently. Just as a hospital collects the sick under one roof and labels them as such, the church collects sinners. Many of the people outside the hospital are every bit as sick as the ones inside, but their illnesses are either undiagnosed or disguised. It's similar with sinners outside the church."
A third area of questionable expectations is that of our own expectations
of Jesus and the Christian life. We sometimes expect Jesus to solve all our
problems. We seem to think that our lives will be smooth sailing. We don't
really believe that, but we often act or react that way when things get rough.
We expect our Lord to fix anything that is wrong or troubling us. And then we
are perplexed when He fails to meet our expectation. Michael Card is a
Christian composer and recording artist. He once, in a radio interview, had
this to say,
"We have this image of Jesus, just like Peter, that is not a biblical image - (as) the ultimate fixer. If I have Him, He'll take care of everything in my life. I won't have any problems. Great hopes, great expectations, and then we feel like Jesus lets us down. He genuinely fails everyone who gets close to Him in the Gospels. He fails to meet their expectations, every one."
What are the lessons for you and me? One for each example:
Society is not our present battle. Dealing with self is the greatest fight for each believer. We should concentrate on helping each other in this battle rather than expending our energy trying to change society.
Christian churches are not, as a rule, model communities of good behavior. Instead, they should be places where human misbehavior is brought out in the open, faced, and dealt with in a loving manner. We need to work hard so our church does this.
We need to be careful about what we expect of Jesus. We really don't want a predictable Lord. Being a Christian should be an adventure. Our lesson is to learn total surrender even when we are not sure what is going on. We never let go of our Lord.
Expectations not met? Maybe the problem is with your expectations. Put them in proper perspective.
A Blessed Expectation we can count on ~ “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end!”