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Sunday, May 17, 2015

The Self-Defeating Problem of Great Expectations

POSTMODERNISM and this intelligent age have a great deal to answer for. Suddenly we expect a voice in a life. We expect more from life — for instance, freedom — nowadays, because we live a comfortable existence compared with yesteryear.
These days we, as a people in a very comfy society, don’t want to be slaves; and still less to righteousness — to be enslaved to do good. (This is said in context of Romans 6:15-23, which I’m praying over at present, because Paul, and indeed the New Testament, calls disciples, “slaves,” to a very good thing: God, himself.)
Still, might it be our broadened human nature that none of us, in any age, would want to be slaves. We, who have been given a will, want to exact that will. We seek freedom. What if I don’t want to be a slave? God might be heard to say, “Bad luck!” “It’s just the way life is.” “It won’t make any sense unless you accept the fact.” But such ‘slavery’ is not an abuse of any kind — it’s a freedom to an allegiance!
We might prefer to become free — to righteousness. We should certainly wish to be free of sin. And perhaps if we see that God intends us to be freed to power — to his Spiritual power — then we ought to keep an open mind to the unconventional ways of his wisdom; that ‘slavery’, in the best sense of the word, is his will for us all — slavery to doing right things. Who could argue with that?
But surely we are being pressed in and pressed about for the one reason that our expectations of life are too great. Especially us Westerners. We get protected all our lives from the school of hard knocks, and then when something truly earth-shattering happens in our world, when we are numb in disbelief, then we cannot believe God’s gall. Or, there is the situation of allegiances — a sporting team, a political party, a social justice campaign, another ‘good thing’ that takes our focus away from a worship that right-sizes our expectations for life. Allegiances, in and of themselves, are not so problematic, as to need to be secondary.
Familiarity breeds contempt. We may wonder who the Holy Spirit has in mind for us that we’ve been taking for granted. Make me grateful for the blessings I so easily overlook, Lord.
There are so many preventable causes of spiritual laxity. And surely the best of these remedies is to get our expectations down into their right size and in their right place — in all humility.
Expect great things of God, but expect little of people. Even better have no expectation, especially of friends. Enjoy them. Bless them. Keep them.
Let us be slaves to bringing good into our friends’ lives. And who is our friend? He or she is our neighbour.
Thank you, Lord, that you made me free,
Thank you that you made me to be me,
Thank you that Christ makes me a slave to give,
Thank you that he came here to show me how to live. AMEN.
© 2015 Steve Wickham.

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