A few weeks ago I was able to listen to a sermon that generated a lot of self-examination. Let me encourage you to share the experience if you are able. For those who are local, if you do not have computer access I will make copies of the message for you. It is a sermon by Dr. Shane J. Wood titled “Parting Words: Listen to Me! (Mark 14:1-10). He preached it at College Heights Christian Church (Joplin, MO) in October 2012. You can access the sermon at http://www.shanejwood.com/parting-words-listen-to-me-mark-141-10
Without giving too much away, a recurring focus of the sermon is how much we are shaped by our expectations. So, let me ask you a few questions…
- What expectations do you have of God, pertaining to your health and welfare? Do your expectations cause you to be disappointed, or even angry at times?
- What expectations do you have of the church? Are your expectations biblical, or are they a product of 21st century, North American encounters, experiences, and/or our radical individualism (me, myself, and I)?
- In terms of family life, what expectations do you have of your spouse, your parents, and/or your siblings? Are you waiting for someone else to make you ‘happy’ or help you find fulfillment?
Even the disciples, who basically lived with Jesus for three years as he traveled and taught, had an extremely difficult time overcoming their expectations regarding the Messiah and the Kingdom. For instance, even as Jesus was about to ascend into heaven (post-resurrection), the disciples asked, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 2:6) The ‘blinders’ they had grown up with predisposed them to expect an earthly kingdom, even though Jesus had just recently said, “My kingdom is not of this world.”
Expectations and Investments
Most people have at one time or another heard someone either quote or paraphrase Paul’s words, “…whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully” (2 Cor. 9:6). In other words, you get out of something what you put into it! In computer lingo it has become ‘G-I-G-O’ – “Garbage in; garbage out.” Are your expectations consistent with your investment? When things are going horribly wrong, you seldom hear people confess, “Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit” (Gal. 6:8).
Let’s work hard to create or adopt expectations that are realistic, biblical, and uplifting? Is it fair of me to say, “My expectation is that we will become a loving, caring, encourage community of believers.” Will you help me make that a reality?