Summary: Part 4 of series Every Thought Captive. Dave looks at the lie that God can’t really expect us to live godly lives, and examines the idea of spiritual perfection.
“God Can’t Really Expect…”
Every Thought Captive, part 4
Wildwind Community Church
February 11, 2007
Does God expect too much of us? Have you ever felt that way? That if God wants us to live better lives, he should just make us better people? Why is it that we are born into a sinful, fallen world, and then asked to believe in a God who barely makes himself known, and seems to give us so many reasons not to believe? And on top of all that, we are asked to live our lives basically denying the things that make us human – expected to suppress our natural drives for sex, for power, for money, and for material comforts, to follow this Jesus character who lived a life that frankly very few of us are all that interested in. I mean, we say we are, but let’s face it, Jesus essentially was a homeless guy. He was eccentric. He didn’t follow the customs of his society, didn’t fit in. He was exactly the kind of person who would make most good Grand Blanc people squirm with discomfort. And speaking of discomfort, ever notice how Jesus often seemed to be totally lacking in tact? I mean, he’d call the religious leaders hypocrites, he’d call people out on their sin, he’d come right out and challenge people to kill him, saying that if they did he would rise again in three days. He was a pretty blunt guy, sometimes, wasn’t he?
Throughout the Old Testament God continually held up this really high standard to people. Sacrifice on these days. Go to temple on these days. Feast on these days, fast on those. Give offerings this many times per year at this rate. Treat your neighbors in these ways. In the New Testament Jesus was continually saying, “Follow me.” In other words, drop everything you are doing, realign your priorities, and put me in the center.
What demands this God makes! I mean, how intimidating! And yet, at the same time, while making all these demands, this God says things like:
Jeremiah 31:3 (NIV)
3 …I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.
Jeremiah 1:5 (NASB)
5 "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you…
I mean, who is God? Is he demanding and harsh with us, or is he loving and gentle and compassionate? Has he set the bar impossibly high, or incredibly low? What are God’s standards for us? We’re in a series now called Every Thought Captive and we’re focusing on lies people believe that keep them from being able to relate to God properly. We’ve looked so far at the lie that spiritual experience is all in our heads, and the lie that we are just too weak to serve God. Today we’re looking at a lie I like to call, “God can’t really expect…” It sounds like this.
God is love, so he can’t really expect me to stop doing what I enjoy in order to follow him. God is merciful, so he can’t really expect me to take my sin seriously. God is patient, so he can’t really expect me to work to clean up my act. Basically, God can’t really expect me to live a godly life, can he? I mean, he’s God, right? Isn’t he kind of like Santa Claus? I mean, he just wants to give me stuff. He looks the other way when I do things I shouldn’t do, just always loves me no matter what, and he kind of allows his love to make everything okay, right? I mean, what does God expect, I’m only a human being, after all. I’m just being natural. Seeking sex is natural. Seeking power and money are natural. Wanting toys is natural. Talking badly about people is natural. The bad things people do are natural, therefore when I do bad things I’m only being natural. God can’t expect to hold me accountable for being natural, can he? Can he? I mean, I’m not at war with God. I don’t hate God. I don’t have anything against him, I wish him the best and wouldn’t really want to have his job. Maybe God can do his thing and leave me alone – you know, I’ll leave him alone too and we can just kind of co-exist, Him being God and me being – natural.
That’s what it sounds like. Perhaps you’ve had this conversation, or parts of it, with yourself. Perhaps you believe that God doesn’t really expect you to live a godly life, that God’s standards are so ridiculously high that he can’t really expect you to live by them. After all God is a gracious God, right? God loves everybody, right? I mean, God just wants us to all get along and for none of us to do anything that hurts anybody else, right, and as long as each of us is a good person everything’s cool? Jesus says in Matthew: