A couple weeks ago, I had the privilige of sharing a message with Fellowship Church. The topic that I’d been given was the truimphal entry. After praying and discussing the issue with Marty, I decided that the thing that God wanted me to focus on was expectations: those around Jesus had this set of mostly wrong expectations as Jesus entered Jeruselum. Similiairly, today, we often pin our expectations on Jesus and act frustrated with him when refuses to be boxed into them.
As I prayed and thought and discussed the topic, a thing occured to me. I didn’t really get much of a chance to work these ideas into the sermon. I thought I’d spout them here.
Expectations aren’t all bad. They are in fact, closely aligned to faith: we are supposed to expect that God is active in the world today; we are supposed to expect that God works miracles, we are supposed to expect that he loves us.
I think the best way to navigate through this question about when expectations are good and when expectations are bad is to look at our Earthly relationships.
This isn’t a perfect solution. But at the very least it illuminates how a lack of expectations is just as destructive as the wrong kinds of expectations.
The expectations I have had on my wife (and that she has had on me) are in fact a pretty good litmus test, a sort-of vital sign, for our relationship as a whole.
When we were first married neither of us liked the other very much. We had significant expectations on each other. These expectations were out of touch with who we were. She expected me to be a Christian dude and act like it, for example. The problem was that I wasn’t a Christian dude and saw no reason to act like it.
What caused our to get begin to heal was that we dropped the expectations we had of each other. Since the only expectations we had were not realistic ones, this was a slight improvement. But only a slight improvement.
Because when we don’t expect anything of a person we are not holding them accountable. When we are intimately connected with a person, to not expect anything of them is to really place them at your mercy.
If we expect nothing of a person we don’t expect them to treat us respectfully. If we expect nothing of a person we don’t expect them to be productive or to carry their weight.
There’s a bigger problem than the idea that it’s bad for yourself to expect nothing of the other person. This bigger problem is that it is bad for them.
It was not healthy for me that my wife did not hold me accountable for my behavior and decisions. Nor was it healthy for her that I did not hold her similarly accountable.
A final illustration:
I never planned on being a dad or a family man. When I announced I was going to be a father to friends they had trouble with it. Many didn’t share my prior aversion to families. But they’d come to expect me to be that way. Shattering these expectations was so uncomfortable that some of them simply drifted out of my life rather than reaquiant themselves to the new me.
Jesus doesn’t change like I changed. But we would sometimes rather drift out of touch with him than adjust our expectations of him. Our expectations are only healthy if they begin with who we are. Where fallible humanity is concerned they should call us to be the best we can be. Where Jesus is concerned, they should rest assured that he is the best anyone could possibly be.
What do you think about expectations and God?