Great Expectations

Have you ever felt like you just never measure up to others?  Maybe there's a sense that you should be like 'this' or 'that' and, hard as you may try, you seem to fall short every time.  I really don't believe this kind of thinking is unique to women in the church.  You can find this at your average mom/child playgroup, elementary school, neighborhood gathering, homeschool co-op.  Women compare and women demand.  Nothing lovely develops out of this system, though.  When I'm struggling with a busy week and I look around at my messy house, I imagine a friend stopping by unexpectedly and judging me. This thinking makes me angry at her, at my messy family and at my inability to keep up with life.  Whether the expectations from others are real or not isn't what matters.  Our minds can create a pretty play and attribute all sorts of motives to women who make us feel like we're failing.  They have standards, we have standards and the question is, "Who is meeting all these standards?!?" I wonder how many women in the church are faking it so they can appear like they have it all together.  Lies flow easily so no one suspects we sin.  We put on the smiley-face while we seethe inside.  Our days are consumed by doing, doing, doing and yet we feel further and further from God all the while.

Enough is enough, ladies!  I'm not here to tell you to lower your expectations or to embrace your messy lives as some are prone to do.  No, here's the truth--God's truth:

Be holy, for I am holy.  1 Peter 1: 16

Um...you might wonder how that's supposed to help.

And yet this is our expectation from God, and it's a great one.

So, what do we do?  Work harder?  Just give me the checklist, I'll complete it and earn favor with God and man.  While I know it's ludicrous to say it that way, how many times do I find myself doing this very thing?  How often do I hide what I do or proclaim those things that I don't really do?  This isn't authentic.  It's not genuine and we will never have peace living this kind of life.

There is an answer to dealing with all these great expectations, though:  Jesus Christ.  Jesus lived a perfectly obedient life on earth, something we will never be able to achieve.  He gave up His life to die on a cross for our sins.  His sacrifice was given as an exchange--His perfect obedience for our sins.  How unfair is this?!?  He takes my sins; He gives me His righteousness, His holiness, His perfection?  In my place, Jesus incurred all of God's wrath upon my sins.  Instead of consuming me, God now looks upon me, because of Jesus, and accepts me.  He accepts me!  All of my filthy sins have been cleansed so that God now sees me without blemish.

Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior.  But now He has reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death to present you holy in His sight, without blemish and free from accusation--if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel.      Colossians 1: 21-23a

When we are tempted to pretend, to compare ourselves to others and set up ungodly standards, may we be reminded of the One whose great expectations have been met through His Son, Jesus Christ.  It is only through Him that our works can have value and be received by God.

It's not about striving and proving to others that we've got it all together.  Rather, it's about pointing to Him, Jesus Christ, because He is holy and He has given us all that we need to be called holy by God.  We're called holy and we are being made holy.  This is all done through Christ's work on the cross.  If you feel inadequate or like you'll never meet others' expectations, then you have taken your eyes off of the Cross.  You have taken your eyes off of Jesus.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.  And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.  For the joy set before Him, He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.       Hebrews 12: 1-2

Love, Wendy

The Complications of Confidence

Facebook posts. "13.1" bumper stickers.

Annual Christmas letters.

Honor Rolls and Dean's Lists.

Salaries.

Prime zip codes.

The list could continue on and on; this is merely a sampling of things that can complicate our confidence.   Do you relate?  After a winter of sedentary hibernation, I can think pretty poorly of myself when I see one of those half-marathon stickers on a car.  Or, when we're struggling at home with basic academic concepts, I can be shaken when others are reveling in their high GPAs.  Why can't we keep up with the Joneses?  Will I ever be able to do what she does?

This kind of thinking is bound to be prevalent in the world around us.  In fact, the world thrives on comparing us with others; this is the foundation of advertising!  Yet, I know this is prevalent in the church too.  We live in this world--even if we're not of it--and we can quickly become lured away by this kind of thinking.

Our flesh wants to check off the requirements, do the work ourselves and accomplish what needs to be done.  We are stopped short when we read this:

For by grace you have been saved through faith and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.  Ephesians 2: 8-9

What?  This isn't about what I'm contributing?  This isn't about ME and what I'm doing?

For some of us, this may seem like Christianity 101, but I challenge you to consider whether or not you are possibly falling prey to worldly confidence as opposed to godly confidence.  Do you compare yourself to others?  Are you finding pride to be prevalent?  Is your focus more on yourself than on Jesus?  Is praise from man more desired than praise from God?

Because of Christ's sacrifice on our behalf and His resurrection and victory over death, we can have perfect and complete confidence.  It is HIS perfect accomplishment that gives us beautiful godly confidence.

For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

2 Corinthians 5: 21

This kind of truth, this kind of confidence, does not fade away with time.  It is not shaken because of difficult circumstances.  It is not up to me and my abilities.  God has given us His righteousness.  This is who we are--righteous--because of Jesus' work on the cross.

Can you be confident because of Jesus?

Will your parenting reflect this or will you waffle in training your children?

Will my walk with Christ show this or will I spin my wheels because I'm just not quite sure God, the giver of all good gifts, will take care of my finances, will give me victory over bitterness or will conquer my fears?

Let's boldly walk out in this confidence that comes from knowing that God is our loving Father and Christ is our perfect righteousness.

Love, Wendy

(This post was inspired by a wonderful sermon that you can listen to right here.)