The Christian's Horizon of Expectations

What do you expect?

More specifically, what do you expect of God? When Jesus says to Martha "if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God" (John 11:40), He's talking about the bottom line. The least common denominator in interaction with God: Belief. And from belief, we learn to love and respect and obey Him out of gratitude. But it starts with faith. And God fills that faith and love with His presence.

"But without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he (and she) that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him." (Hebrews 11:6)

But after that, what?

Many Christians suffer from a failure of imagination. A failure to believe that God is everything the Bible says He is. Creator/re-Creator. Lover of our soul. Abundant supplier of our every need.

But I'd hate to impose...

The term "Horizon of Expectations" comes to us from Literary Theory and was coined by German literary critic Hans Robert Jauss. It refers to the preconceived notions that a reader or audience has when approaching a work. When we read exclusively a certain genre or a certain style of writer, our reading proclivities become attuned to that style and our opinions naturally begin to flow from that set of (now) preconceived notions. As such, the reader becomes less and less inclined to read anything out of their literary comfort zone, staying only within their preferred genre or sub-genre and not straying into other types of literature. So if you find yourself stagnant in your reading and tired of the same-old, same-old, then seek out a new genre or style or writer and begin afresh. Like everything in life, variety's spicyness will prove invigorating. Just don't stop reading. Broaden your "horizon of expectations". Take in new information but never lose sight of the truth.

The same goes for God. And it applies to more than the Bible as a book. Exercising our faith may well slow and stagnate if we don't seek out ways of service and worship that challenge and inspire us to continue moving forward in our relationship with Him. There's always a better way to do something. Jesus said as much:

"Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go to the Father." (John 14:12)

The word 'believe' appears in John's Gospel more than twice as many times as the other Gospels combined. As I've mentioned before, belief is a continual process. Belief is something that grows and flourishes with each new endeavor that you and God encounter together. As Christians, our horizon of expectations should be ever-expanding. Subsequently, we will find ourselves becoming sweeter, more patient and loving and compassionate. The fragrance of Jesus will only increase.

"For we are unto God a sweet savour (fragrance) of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things? For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ." (2 Corinthians 2:15-17) Which brings me to my next point. Paul, in the above passage, speaks of those who "corrupt the word of God". And while I'm not going to implicate any one denomination, I will say that anytime we don't see God as sufficient in power and strength and patience and courage and any other quality that we need for our life—and then begin living from that malformed opinion—we "corrupt the word of God". That's a dangerous place to be. It's one thing, because of doubt and unbelief, to limit God from working in our own lives. But quite another to drag people down with us. And don't forget! The devil's real too. More crafty and cunning and subversive that we'd ever imagine. And if he can stunt or thwart our understanding of God as He's revealed in His word then our horizon of expectations will slowly vanish.

"But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?" (Matthew 15:3, emphasis mine)

That's the thing. Anytime we impose a tradition or a pet doctrine or anything that we think is worth focusing on to the neglect of Jesus Himself, we are limiting ourselves and the more we do that, the more we limit God from affecting and blessing others.

Broaden your horizon of expectation. Believe the best of God.

Knowing It By Heart (How to Know part 4)

Minds Made Up