When you became a Christian, what did you think your life was going to be like going forward? Did you expect anything to be different? Did you expect it to be better? Harder? Easier? Did you expect anything about you to change? What were your Christian expectations?
Those are very appropriate questions. The Bible has quite a lot to say about expectations. Throughout the Old Testament God promises His people many things: victory over their enemies, a permanent future, healing and prosperity, His presence. That’s not all, but those are the kinds of things the Jewish people seemed to remember most.
When Jesus comes on the scene in the New Testament, He tells His disciples a lot about what they can expect as His followers. Of course Jesus had to correct most of His disciples’ expectations about what the Kingdom of God was all about, and what it would mean for them. And perhaps He would need to correct our expectations as well.
Different brands of Christianity focus on different aspects of God’s promises. Most of the time that’s OK; no one person or organization can necessarily expound everything about God completely and perfectly. But there’s often such a contrast between those who seem to promise “health and wealth” to those who follow Jesus and those who emphasize the “narrow way” into the Kingdom of God.
Here are a few words from Jesus to put this in perspective:
- “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” (Matthew 10:34)
- “and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 10:38-39)
- “I tell you the truth,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields– and with them, persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life.” (Mark 10:29-30)
- “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10)
- “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
And what DID the early followers of Jesus experience?
- Persecution and trouble
- Miracles, signs, and wonders
- Changed lives and a changed world
Easy? NO. Significant? YES!
So what does that mean for you and me?
6 Things You CAN Expect
Based on what Jesus promised, and on what other followers of Jesus have experienced, here’s what you CAN expect as a Christian:
- Transformation. YOU will be different. Your motivations, the way you see the world, your heart, your character, what matters to you – all that will change as a result of knowing Jesus as your Lord and Savior. Your transformation won’t happen in a day, but it will happen if you stick around. (2 Corinthians 3:18)
- Trouble. Yes, Jesus promised trouble. Tribulation. Conflict. Even persecution. If you have truly been changed because of Jesus, the kingdom of darkness will notice, and will oppose you in some way. That’s normal. It’s expected. It’s evidence that God is at work in and through you.
- Life. Everything about you will be made fully alive. The same power of God that was working in Jesus is working in you. See Romans 8:11. That means your body can be vibrant, your mind and emotions fully engaged, your relationships meaningful, and your spirituality resilient. You aren’t finished yet, but you’re fully alive.
- Significance. You may not always know how your life will count for the Kingdom of God, but you can be sure that it will. Just as with the 5 loaves and 2 fishes with which Jesus fed the multitude, if you bring what you have to Him, He will bless it, brake it, and use it to feed others.
- A Future. Both in this life, and in eternity. “If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.” (1 Corinthians 15:19) You can live without limits now, knowing that this life is not all there is. Looking forward to the hope of heaven changes how you live your life today.
- Never Alone. Others in the family of God are there, whether you always feel their presence or not. And even more important, Jesus has promised to be with you always. ALWAYS. Whether you are sick or well, rich or poor, happy or sad, young or old. That’s His absolute guarantee. “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)
Will your life be easy? Probably not. Will you be healed? Maybe. Will you accomplish everything you want here and now? I don’t know.
But I do know that if you determine to follow Jesus and never look back, you will not be sorry.
Your Turn: Has there been something you expected about the Christian life that has turned out differently than you imagined it would?Leave a comment below.
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