Preaching & Teaching

Unrealistic Expectations—Part 1

Do not be surprised. 1 Peter 4:12 (NIV)

Examine your expectations of the Christian life in light of the Bible:

1. Christians always have happy marriages.
False. If you marry a difficult person, expect to have a difficult marriage. Temperaments clash between believers as much as they do between unbelievers.

1 Peter 3 makes it clear that believers struggled with marital problems: “Wives…your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair. Husbands…be considerate as you live with your wives” (1 Pet. 3:3, 7). Peter wrote this because there were unloving husbands, and wives with million-dollar hairdos, but not much else attractive about them.

2. Christians are always motivated to love, pray, and serve Christ.
False. Christians struggle with mixed motivations. We love Christ and live by faith, but we also live in the body: “The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God” (Gal. 2:20), so we become tired, discouraged, and constantly need to be renewed in our inner being.

3. Christians no longer struggle with sin, doubt, or fear.
False. We no longer are under the power of these things, but we are not yet saved from their presence. “The sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit…they are in conflict with each other” (Gal. 5:17). These constant enemies attack us and sometimes prevail.

4. Christians feel pain less because Christ is with them.
False. Read the book of Job and let your expectations be formed from the Bible. Two men break a leg—one is a Christian; the other is an atheist. Their experience of pain is equal. It is the same with grief. It feels the same.

Which of these expectations do you most need to re-examine?

Colin Smith is senior pastor of The Orchard Evangelical Free Church, a multi-campus church located in the northwest suburbs of Chicago, and president of Unlocking the...

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