What did you expect when you said by faith, “I believe,” became a Christian, and started walking with Jesus? Sadly, for many in the church today, they expected what God never promised. In a word, they expected LESS!
Perhaps you’re wondering if I have lost my mind; please read on and see if any of the following resonates with you.
- God promised adoption . . . they live like orphans
- God promised forgiveness . . . they live like condemned criminals
- God promised His presence . . . they live like Jesus has left the building
- God promised His strength . . . they live in their own strength
- God promised transcendent glories . . . they live for their own glory
- God promised a place in His kingdom . . . they live for first place in their kingdom
- God promised a relationship with His Son . . . they live for religion
- God promised eternity . . . they live only for the moment
These, and a thousand other expectations, are clearly less than God has promised for His people. The church is full of Christians who are expecting the wrong things—and are therefore building their own kingdom—and in the process they settle for less than God has promised. But this is not for you!
“‘I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” The hope and future God promised in Jeremiah 29:11 may not look at all like what you have been hoping for. Do you know why? Because Omniscience knows what is best for you! Think back to some of those things you longed for with all your heart, only to be filled with such great disappointment when you didn’t get them. Today, looking back on it, can you see how God was protecting you and providing for you by withholding it from you? That is certainly true of my own life, in more ways than I can count!
When we push God to the perimeter of our lives and pursue our own dreams and desires, we are actually settling for so much less than the Gospel promises. I’ve heard my friend and pastor, Tullian Tchividjian, quote C.S. Lewis with powerful effect:
We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at sea. We are far too easily pleased.
The really good news of the Gospel is the truth that we are not responsible for earning God’s favor and blessings. These have already been acquired on our behalf by Jesus Christ and come to us only as a result of our union with Him. Remember, God promised to get you home safely—but not without stress, struggle, and suffering. And God never promised an explanation for your unmet expectations.
Jerry Bridges writes, “If we are to succeed in living by grace, we must come to terms with the fact that God is sovereign in dispensing His gracious favors, and He owes us no explanation when His actions do not correspond with our system of merits.”
So what did you expect? Expect God’s best for you because of what Jesus has already done on your behalf, regardless of the package it is delivered in.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!