Expectation: the degree of probability that something will occur
Obligation: a binding promise, contract, sense of duty, etc.
When did the church forget that Jesus will not only lead us to the Cross, but He will continue to walk with us past the Cross into a new life? A new life that our brilliant Creator is big enough to take to new heights, to build on, and to mold into the person we were meant to be.
Unfortunately, we as believers take on the mindset that once a person makes their way to the Cross that we must “take it from there” so to speak. We place unnatural expectations on believers and forget that we serve a God big enough to handle the situation, and that He simply calls on us, not to step in and take over, but to simply build up one another in love.
“You need to start reading your Bible EVERYDAY for at least an hour.”
“You need to wake up extra early and pray before you start your day.”
“You need to start serving somewhere in church.”
What happens from here? Well, believers fall into the “need-to trap”. They start reading the Bible for an hour everyday even though most of what they read doesn’t make any sense to them (and not to mention they can’t stand reading), they start waking up at 4:00 in the morning to pray even though they are not a morning person, and they start volunteering in an area they don’t feel comfortable serving in. It works for a little while, but then obligation takes hold. What they started wasn’t guidance from God, it was guidance from another believer unintentionally trying to “highjack” the Holy Spirit’s position in our lives. When this occurs, obligation will always show its face.
Obligation can be a passion-killer. When it comes down to it, if the only reason you are doing something “for God” is out of obligation, you are in serious trouble. Constant obligation is a road that leads to frustration, disillusionment, and eventually, burnout.
How about this? What if we simply trust in our BIG GOD to work in the hearts of believers and lay down our passion-killing expectations? What if we all come to an understanding that how God works in each of our hearts is as unique as each of our personalities? So that means Jake might simply listen to the Bible via his iPod, and, oh my goodness, it might not be everyday. Or Sue might choose to pray within the framework of tiny moments throughout her busy schedule, but those moments are beautiful and represent real conversations between Sue and her loving God. Or maybe Ellen doesn’t serve in the Children’s Ministry, but she feels God tugging at her heart to spend time each week with her elderly neighbor across the street whose husband died last year.
Jesus is big enough to take you to the Cross and He is big enough to uniquely walk alongside each of us, all the while empowering His followers to move toward a life filled with abundant love.