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December 1, 2011

When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem.  And he sent messengers ahead of him, who went and entered a village of the Samaritans, to make preparations for him.  But the people did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem.  And when his disciples James and John saw it, they said, “Lord, do you want us to tell fire to come down from heaven and consume them?”  But he turned and rebuked them.  And they went on to another village.
Luke 9:51-56

So, apparently the Samaritans weren’t big fans of the Jews.  Understatement, I know.  Their messianic expectations – mainly that Mount Sinai was the location of Yahweh worship – created a great cultural rift, and resulted in significant animosity between the two groups.  (That’s why the story of the “Good Samaritan” is so earth-shattering; the Jesus taught that the Samaritans were included in the group of “neighbors” God had commanded the Jews to love!)

Jesus was a Jew (I just blew your mind, didn’t I?), or “one who turned his face toward Jerusalem.”  This difference in the interpretation of the proper location of worship and sacrifice, along with the center of rule of the coming messiah, led them to reject Jesus completely, forcing him out of their town.  Their expectations for what the Kingdom of God would look like led them to reject the very one they were expecting.

I sat at my table, slowly sipping my first Caribou Coffee Reindeer Blend (shameless plug), pondering this idea of rejection based on expectation.  Were their expectations incorrect?  Were they justified in denying Jesus a place at their table based on his Jewish heritage and beliefs?  I don’t really have a good answer to those questions (though, if I truly believe Jesus was the messiah, then I suppose I’d have to affirm that they were wrong).

But, as I sat there, this question slowly creeped into my mind: What expectations do I have that are preventing me from accepting the true message of Jesus?

Let’s take it one step further – Are these expectations keeping me from fulfilling his call to love, grace, and freedom from sin for all people?

I do have some pretty significant expectations, ones that, I hope, lead me toward living the life Christ would have for me.  I expect him to give me the ability to love all people.  I expect him to to fulfill his promise to come back and right this dismal world.

But, I have some expectations that probably get in his way.  I expect him to provide all that I need and want.  I expect him to give me an easy life as long as I obey his commands.  I expect a righteous life as long as I read my Bible and pray.  But are any of these things actually promised?  And what happens if I don’t get all that I want in this world?  Will that cause my faith to waiver, my commitment fail?  What if I don’t have an easy life after all?  I’m a missionary for cryin’ out loud, don’t I deserve one?

These expectations are dangerous when it comes to acknowledging the person and promise of Jesus Christ.  I don’t want them to keep me from affirming him as my savior, redeemer, and captain of my life.  But, all too often, I am like the Samaritans, pushing Jesus out of my life because he doesn’t fit the description of the savior in whom I have come to put my faith.

Lord, give me the grace to accept you and you alone.  I reject the caricature of you and the false expectations I hold dear, and affirm the true Christ as Lord of my life.

What expectations do you have that get in the way of worshiping the true Christ?  Have you been able to find truth in Scripture that lead you back to “the life that is truly life”?

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