How much does God expect from us, really?
It is very tempting to think, “God does not expect that much from me,” when you know you are so thoroughly loved by God, so thoroughly forgiven, and in fact rightfully believing that there is nothing you can do to earn your salvation. We can almost theologically justify “God does not expect that much from me,” by saying that we are saved by grace through faith not by works.
But that would be an improper way to live out the theology of grace. Let me say clearly that this phrase is right only when it comes to our salvation. It is true that God expects nothing from us in that sense, because Jesus did all the work salvation required through his birth, life, death and resurrection. Only he could do that. We could not.
But our response, James says in James 2, is to have a faith that works in thankful gratitude for God’s grace. Paul said the same thing in Titus 2:11 when he said “Grace teaches us to say, ‘No’ to unholiness and pursue a righteous life.” (my paraphrase)
Jesus also taught that God expects everything from us. He told his disciples, “Die to yourself, and follow me.” There is only one way to follow Jesus, and it is by giving your life completely to follow him. Believing is not even close to enough.
Jesus told the rich young man, “Sell all you have, and give it to the poor.” Yet how many of us, upon hearing Jesus teach like this, think to ourselves, “Well…he doesn’t really mean that, does he?”
Sojourners magazine recently ran an article about wealthy Christians in the midst of so many in need. The author talked about how Christians know there are people struggling with homelessness, for example, and yet we rarely give up our vacations or our hobbies in order to make a difference.
In the Deuteronomy series we talked about how Old Testament Law is not binding on Christians. Consider how that relates to the practice of generosity. We Christians might say, “Whew…I’m glad I’m not bound to the Old Testament Law, so I don’t have to tithe like ancient Israel did…I don’t have to give to 10%!”
But if you look at the New Testament teaching on giving, it is way more sacrificial than 10%. In 2 Corinthians 8-9, Paul teaches the Christians to give generously, sacrificially, consistently and cheerfully.
And it is not just money. It is about our whole lives. Jesus lays claim to our entire lives, including our bodies.
“You are not your own,” Paul says in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, “You were bought with a price, so glorify God with your body.”
God’s desires for Christians is that we will give all to him. All means all. That might sound scary or too difficult. But remember that God has your best interest in mind. His ways are far superior to our ways. Are we willing to trust him with our lives? Go all in.
So as we fact-check this one, God doesn’t expect you to do anything to save yourself, but as a follower of Jesus, he expects you to give everything.