Unreasonable Expectations

It is unreasonable to expect that everyone will obey the gospel. Of course, it is our job to go into the entire world and preach the gospel to everyone who will hear us (cf. Mark 16:15). Naturally, this commission that Jesus gave His apostles also applies to you and to me (cf. Matt. 28:20). Nevertheless, this does not mean that everyone will obey the declared gospel. As a matter of fact, Jesus went out preaching the gospel (Matt. 4:23; 9:35), but He could not convert all to whom He preached. In fact, many of them became so infuriated with His messages that they killed Him, and His followers after some three years of preaching were relatively few (cf. 1 Cor. 15:6). Thus, if Jesus, the Master Preacher, could not motivate everyone to obey the gospel, why should I unreasonably expect everyone to whom I preach to obey the gospel? Having full assurance of this fact will definitely prevent discouragement in my evangelistic efforts!

It is unreasonable to expect that the church will not suffer problems. The early church began as the culminated effort of our Savior (cf. Matt. 16:18), but it began to have problems early in its existence. Several Christians were not so Christian in their behavior (Acts 5:1-11). Elderly members began to grumble and complain because of prejudicial attitudes (Acts 6:1-4). Some from other religions began to argue and debate (Acts 6:9ff), which eventually led to an all-out murderous persecution against Christianity (Acts 7:54-8:4). Quite the contrary, the early church of our Lord grew in spite of these problems. Nevertheless, it seems as if many want their Christianity to be so comfortable that they ignore such statements as, “Yea, and all who will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2 Tim. 3:12). As a matter of fact, suffering problems is associated with rich blessings (Matt. 5:10-12), and James states that it contributes to the development of Christian character—patience (Jas. 1:2-4). Thus, it is unreasonable to expect that the church will not suffer problems. The key is how we react to them!

It is unreasonable to expect that children should behave as adults. God correlates Christianity with a process of maturity (cf. 1 Pet. 2:2). Naturally, adults should not behave as children (cf. Heb. 5:12-14; 1 Cor. 13:11; 16:13), but we ought not to expect children to behave as adults. If I can understand that my physical child needs time, space and opportunity to grow and develop, making mistakes along the way, then I ought to understand that spiritual children need such also. Far too many young converts have fallen by the wayside over the years because some well-meaning “mature” Christian harshly criticized their behavior, forgetting that they were once young, too. Just as children need gentle teaching and discipline that is age-appropriate, babes in Christ need gentle, reinforcing teaching with discipline that is age-appropriate spiritually.

It is unreasonable to expect that all Christians will remain faithful. In addition to what we noted with our first point, it is certainly the desire of God that all Christians would remain faithful, but such will not be. Jesus made it clear that only a few would enter the appropriate gate and successfully traverse the appropriate path to eternal life (Matt. 7:13-14). His demeanor is one of a longsuffering nature, “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9). Yet, some will accept the gospel, but because of persecution, tribulations or worldliness, they will not last (cf. Matt. 13:20-22). The warning from the apostle Peter is quite clear—the possibility of apostasy is a danger for us all (2 Pet. 2:20-22). It saddens us deeply when our brothers and sisters in Christ lose their first love, and to these, we implore them to repent and do the first works (cf. Rev. 2:4-5). It is unreasonable to expect that all Christians will remain faithful.

While we could offer others, may we learn from these unreasonable expectations and profit thereby!

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