Lofty Expectations

by Travis Bookout

Lofty Expectations

I hate this blog.  I have written exactly one post for it.  Well, I guess this makes two.  But I have tried to write several others.  It weighs on my mind.  I feel I need to write something.  Then behold, I get an idea.  I sit.  I write.  Then I stop.  I call myself an idiot, shut my computer and go on with my day.  Every time I start writing I feel woefully inadequate.  I don’t want you nice folks to take time out of your day to read this blog if it is just going to be wasted (I sincerely hope that I am not wasting your time right now).  That’s just my personality.  I’m never satisfied with what I write, and I feel people expect better from me.  I can tell myself that God gives the increase, but honestly, even planting or watering make me nervous.  I feel the weight of other people’s expectations and it makes me want to just avoid it altogether.

It’s a confidence thing.  I just returned from the Harding Lectureship and I went to “Better: Texas Style” earlier in September.  I love going to lectureships and hearing sermons from godly men, but again, I always leave feeling woefully inadequate.  I meet and listen to men who are extremely knowledgeable, talented speakers and by all appearances are godly passionate Christians.  Then I look at myself.  I know my sins and I see in myself so many things that I hate.  I listen to my sermons and realize I mixed up the names “Jesus” and “John,” and then asked everyone to turn to 2nd Philippians or something goofy like that.  I get intimidated when I preach to a group of Christians.  I am speaking in a lectureship later this year where I am easily the most under qualified speaker attending, and it is stressing me out in cataclysmic ways.

But here is the thing.  I am going to speak in that lectureship.  I am going to because I have been given the opportunity to teach God’s word and even in my frail human condition I trust that God will be proud of me.  I am going to preach again on Sunday.  Can other people be found who preach better?  Certainly.  But I have a responsibility to God and His people to do my absolute best.  Am I going to write another blog?  YES! (Maybe.  It could possibly be 2 years from now).  But, I am going to try.  God expects us to try.

One of the most intimidating passages in Scripture is in the Sermon on the Mount.  Jesus says to the multitudes that followed Him, “You are the salt of the earth…You are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:13, 14).  YIKES!  Talk about expectations.  I could see myself nodding along to those words, but in my head thinking, “Um…I’m pretty sure that You are the light of the world.  I’m just trying not to mess it up too bad.”  In fact, Jesus even says that He is “the Light of the World” (John 8:12 and 9:5).  How can we be described in the same way that Jesus is?  Because God has great expectations of us.  We are expected to make an impact.  God put a valuable treasure inside us; clay pots (2 Corinthians 4:7-10). God expects us to represent Jesus to the world.

In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus is the master Teacher and Healer.  He is the one persecuted and killed in service to God.  But in Acts, which serves as Volume 2 to Luke, the ministry of Jesus is continued by His followers.  The Apostles now become powerful teachers and healers.  In Luke the fringe of Jesus’ garment heals the woman with a 12 year hemorrhage (Luke 8:43-48), and Jesus raises the dead girl who was 12 years old (Luke 8:40-42, 49-56)?  Well, in Acts it’s Peter’s shadow (Acts 5:15, 16) and the handkerchiefs touched by Paul (Acts 19:11, 12) that have the power to heal.  In Acts it’s Peter and Paul who are able to raise the dead (Acts 9:36-43; Acts 20:8-12).  Jesus was persecuted and killed in Luke.  Jesus was on trial in front of those in authority.  Upon His death He cried out for the forgiveness of those killing Him (Luke 23:34).  In Acts, the disciples are persecuted and killed.  Peter, John, Stephen and Paul all have to stand trial to the authorities.  Upon Stephen’s death he cried out for the forgiveness of those killing him (Acts 7:60).  It is the disciples who continue the work, life and ministry of Jesus.

Basically, the point I am trying to make is that we all have expectations laid upon us.  Christians are supposed to be the lights of the whole world.  Christians are supposed to carry on the work and ministry of Jesus.  God expects great things of us.  This can certainly be intimidating.  We might look at ourselves and feel unworthy.  We might feel that others can do a much better job than we can.  Some people may even grow weary and give up because of these thoughts.  Some, ahem, might never write another blog.  But don’t.  Do not give up.  Do not rely on others to do this work.  Try as hard as you can.  Try to meet God’s lofty expectations.  Try to be, like Jesus was, the light of the world.  Try to be the best teacher, servant, comforter, Christian that you can be.  Try to make an impact for Christ on the world.  Try to be the best you can be for Him!