We all have expectations. But what about when it comes to God?
For some of us who are married, we might think, “If I love Jesus, then my marriage is going be great!” For those of us who are single, we could think, “If I love Jesus, then the right person is going to walk into my life!”
Still others of us might think, “If I love Jesus, and especially if I send some money to the church and think positive thoughts, then everything in my life is going to turn out great!”
I believe the reason so many Christians today are so disillusioned with God and Christianity is because of expectations.
Early in my marriage, I had such skewed expectations of what a good marriage was supposed to look like. I remember reading a line by Francis Schaeffer in one of his books where he said, “A lot of people give up on a good marriage because it’s not a perfect marriage.” I realized I had expected my marriage to be perfect.
Each one of us can actually have a pretty good life or a pretty good marriage and still be miserable because we think it ought to be perfect.
This is why, if we don’t get clear, accurate, biblically based expectations about our lives and about God, then we are setting ourselves up to be devastated.
So what does God expect of us? And what can we expect from God?
The Apostle Paul talked about this very specifically in his letter to the church in Philippi. At the time, he was in prison and chained to praetorian guards. He didn’t know whether or not he was going to get to see his beloved Philippian church or whether he was going to die.
He also learned that the church was being heavily persecuted, as the culture in Rome and in Philippi at that time was extremely anti-Christian. The Philippian Christians could have easily walked away from their faith or lost all hope.
In the midst of all the suffering and persecution, Paul wanted them to have accurate expectations and to also understand what God expected of them in terms of their behavior, their beliefs, and their boldness.
So, he tells them: “Whatever happens, at all cost, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. For it (salvation) has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him.” (Philippians 1:27, 29)
In other words, be one of those Christians that actually lives like a Christian. Live like a citizen of the kingdom of God! Oh, and you will suffer for Him for doing so.
What does it mean to live like a Christian? It means there’s an alignment between what you say and how you live. There’s alignment where your words, life, energy, and your money match up with what you say and what you believe.
The problem with the Philippians is that they were in danger of being Christians that didn’t live like Christians. They said they loved Jesus, but their beliefs and their behavior were telling two different stories.
We call this hypocrisy. Sound familiar?
Remember, we’re called to conduct ourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel. Does it mean we’re to be perfect? No, but when we fail, we ask God to forgive us. We’re also honest and vulnerable about the fact that we’re still on the journey.
When we give to God what He expects of us, a domino effect happens. He begins to provide for what we need and then He begins to change what we need changed on the inside.
Learn more about the power of expectation in Chip’s series, I Choose Joy. In it, you’ll learn how to live above your circumstances, weather the worst storms, and experience true joy.
Founder & Teaching Pastor, Living on the Edge
Chip Ingram is the CEO and teaching pastor of Living on the Edge, an international teaching and discipleship ministry. A pastor for over thirty years, Chip has a unique ability to communicate truth and challenge people to live out their faith. He is the author of many books, including The Real God, Culture Shock and The Real Heaven. Chip and his wife, Theresa, have four grown children and twelve grandchildren and live in California.More Articles by Chip