Friday, March 19, 2010

The Danger of Expectations

It think it is very important for us to have an understanding of our abilities.  I for one am not gifted in debate nor have I been trained in philosophy.  What I know about this world would fill a thimble compared to the vast amount of knowledge out there.  I am just a simple guy who likes to read and think.  That is who I am and one of the reasons why I don’t engage in debates.

Because I like to think I will from time offer a comment or two about things that I have read.  One of the things I have been thinking about the past couple of weeks is an argument against the existence of God.  This is how I would summarize the argument: If God existed we would expect a smaller universe (in both age and size) than what we observe.  So this is an argument based on expectations.  One the thing that should be noted about expectations is that they are formed by our education, experience, and other variables so what I might expect might not be what you expect. 

The main point about expectations that I would like to point out is that expectations, when applied to God, are almost always wrong.  We see this clearly in the Gospels when it came to Jesus being the Messiah.  The Jews had come to expect a Messiah that would free them from Rome and reestablish the Jewish nation.  Jesus on the other hand came to free people from their sins and establish God’s Kingdom.  The result was that many people missed the fact that Jesus was the Messiah because of wrong expectations, even though those expectations were rooted in the Scriptures.
Jesus even had to warn John the Baptizer not to be led astray by his expectations of the Messiah.  Our expectations can become an hindrance to understanding what is really going on. 

Based on science, history, and logic we can come up with expectations of what the world and the universe should be like if God existed, but unless we understand God’s mind and His plan those expectations will be wrong.  It would seem that expectations are irrelevant when we are wondering whether or not God exists, especially if those expectations are made by people who don’t know God.  The more we know the person the more accurate our expectations of their actions will be.  What is the basis for a non-believer using to give us expectations of what God would do?

Let’s move on from the talk of expectations, because when you get down to it expectations don’t matter, what matters is reality.  We live on a small pale blue dot in a vast universe of stars, planets, and a number of other things.  Why is this all here?  What probable reason did God have for creating it all?

Indulge me as I take us back to Jesus one more time.  According to the Bible Jesus is the exact representation of God (Hebrews 3:1).  The means we can expect the sort of things Jesus did on earth are the same things God does.

Since this is the case I want to ask you a question: Why did Jesus teach?  There probably isn’t one answer we can give to this question, but it is apparent from the Gospels that one of the reasons Jesus taught was to separate people who would live by faith from those people who had different agendas.  We find evidence of this reality when the disciples asked Jesus  why He taught with parables.  This is Jesus’ answer:
He answered them, “You have been given knowledge about the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but it hasn't been given to them.  For to anyone who has something, more will be given, and he will have more than enough. But from the one who doesn't have anything, even what he has will be taken away from him. That's why I speak to them in parables, because
‘they look but don't see,
and they listen but don't hear or understand.’

 “With them the prophecy of Isaiah is being fulfilled, which says:
‘You will listen and listen but never understand.
You will look and look but never comprehend.

 For this people's heart has become dull,
and their ears are hard of hearing.
They have shut their eyes
so that they might not see with their eyes,
and hear with their ears,
and understand with their heart and turn,
and I would heal them.’
“How blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear!  For truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see the things you see but did not see them, and to hear the things you hear but did not hear them.” (Matthew 13:11-17; ISV)

This is hard for us to understand, but the reality is that God is looking for people who will simply believe in Him, but people who will live by faith.  Faith begins with belief, but also requires commitment, love, obedience, and trust.  The teachings of Jesus were designed to mature the faith of those committed to God while throwing up obstacles in front of those who had different agendas , those people who expected things from God but weren’t willing to live by faith. There were people who came to Jesus with certain expectations who left disappointed after they heard His teaching.  We find evidence of this fact in the Gospel of John:
He said this while teaching in the synagogue at Capernaum.  When many of his disciples heard this, they said, “This is a difficult statement. Who can accept it?”
But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples were grumbling about this, said to them, “Does this offend you?  What if you saw the Son of Man going up to the place where he was before?  It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is useless. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.  But there are some among you who do not believe.” For from the beginning Jesus knew those who wouldn't believe, as well as the one who would betray him.  So he said, “That's why I told you that no one can come to me unless it be granted him by the Father.”  As a result, many of his disciples turned back and no longer associated with him. (John 6:59-66; ISV)

Jesus didn’t go out of His way to prove that He was the Messiah.  Sure He offered evidence, but He wanted to make sure that people followed Him out of faith and not out of a faulty belief and wrong expectations.  Jesus intentionally used His teachings to separate people.  Some people found what He said to be too difficult and no longer believed in Him, and a select few stayed with Him because they had committed their lives to Him.

What does this have to do with the size of the universe?  Remember we are dealing with reality, and the reality is that we have a large universe.  What probable reason would God have in creating this vast universe?

The apostle Paul tells us that the universe, all of creation, is a teaching tool of God:
For since the creation of the world his invisible attributes—his eternal power and divine nature—have been understood and observed by what he made, so that people are without excuse. (Romans 1:20; ISV)

In creation we have enough to lead us to begin our search for the Creator.  Yet, just like how people responded to Jesus’ parables, people look at creation but they miss the greater significance behind it.  To think that God created is too hard of a truth to accept so they create their own reality, which sounds plausible to their ears.

When we understand this reality of God it shouldn’t be surprising that we discover a universe just like the universe we live in.  A universe that inspires awe and humility in a faithful follower of Jesus, but is also a stumbling block, an obstacle to the person who expects God to act in a certain way and is disillusioned when He doesn’t.

1 comment:

StepUpToTheCall said...

You probably didn't "expect" any comments on this month (not a month later anyway). I was pondering this morning about the dangers of expectations and stumbled across your blog. Great stuff! :) Reading a few other entries, your ponderings are often insightful and well written. Keep on pondering, and keep on sharing!

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