If God is our Heavenly Father then what does he expect from us? Have you ever given that question any thought? Repeatedly in the Gospels Jesus referred to God as his Father, but also as our Father. This idea of God as Father helps us to understand some things about God because we understand what a father is supposed to be like. Admittedly, there are fathers who don’t live up to our ideals, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t have some expectations about fatherhood. We all want a father who is kind, loving, understanding, strong, committed, forgiving, unafraid, and so on. When our fathers don’t live up to those ideals we become ashamed or embarrassed. Some children even become hateful if their fathers constantly exasperate them or become abusive. But deep down we have expectations of fathers similar to the traits I listed above. But if God is a father, then what does he expect of us?
All fathers have certain expectations of their children. I have three daughters. I have expectations of them, even though they are all out of the house and living their own lives. For me I boil down my expectations of them to a single passage of scripture. “I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth” (III John 1:4). I pray for my girls, and my son-in-law, and my grandkids, that the supreme love in their lives would be Jesus and the scripture, and that their lives would be a reflection of Christ’s love for them until the day they die.
But what about God? What expectations does God have for his children?
Immediately my mind turns to a single passage of scripture in the Old Testament. “He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you, but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8). That’s a pretty strong yet overarching statement of what God requires of us. But upon further reflection I think that what God expects from us is related to what he has done for us. When we think about how Jesus lived and what he did we can come away with a powerful lesson about what God expects from those who call themselves Christians.
Many Christians live their lives without much thought toward God, the Bible, church, or their testimony. How do I know this? Because in most conversations I have with fellow Christians I hear nothing about the Lord in their lives. It may seem silly, but when I read the many Facebook posts and Twitter comments from Christians I see very little about their walk with God. If we love Jesus, if we truly love Jesus, then how could we keep from talking about him or the Bible, at some level?
Many Christians often seek God for their health, welfare, career, home/car purchase, in other words, the things that give pleasure. But are these the things that God cares about the most? Jesus said in Matthew 6:7, “Your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.” This implies that God is mindful about the things of life that we care about. But what are the things that God cares about the most? We have a strong indication from the following verses when Jesus teaches his disciples how to pray.
“Pray, then, in this way: Our Father who is in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil” (Matthew 6:9-13).
Did you notice how often Jesus mentioned the material things of life that we need, in other words, what kind of priority God puts on these things? It’s the fourth item on the list. The first three give us an indication of what God is really concerned about: his name, his kingdom, his will.
How often do you think about those things? How often do you think about God’s reputation, his kingdom, and his will?
Here’s a simple test. The scripture says that if we are true Christians we will “walk as he walked” (I John 2:6). What does that mean? It means that Jesus’ first concern in life was that which his father was concerned with: His name, His kingdom, His will.
My fellow Christian, if you live your life day to day and have little or no thoughts in your mind about God, the Bible, church, or your testimony as a Christian then can you say with all confidence that you are really one of his children? What does God expect of us? He expects us to live for him just as he lived for us. Jesus lived for us, not himself. Jesus died for us, not himself. Jesus rose for us, not himself. And he is working in the world today on our behalf, that we might know him intimately and become like him. The one who truly wants to be a Christian, a real Christian, is one who has these priorities in his life. Without them, how is your life any different from the person who does not know God and lives without an eternal hope?