Expectations play a part in our everyday life – either through expectations placed on us by others, or expectations we place on ourselves –whether just or unjust. This Thanksgiving I was so excited about my wife’s annual holiday sausage stuffing feast. Why do we only make Turkey and Stuffing once a year? It’s not like it is an expensive meal; actually, it is very affordable and cost effective. Did I mention delicious? I wait in great expectation every year to this special stuffing that is mixed with maple syrup, sausage, apples and tons of butter – It makes the holiday come alive.
This year was a little different…
It was … not the same. “Oh no! What happened?” went through my mind.
My wife filled me in on the ‘something different’ she was trying. Shocked, I uttered, “You just don’t do that to my sausage stuffing.” She never knew how important it was to me because I guess I never told her what my expectations were every year. Now she knows.
Things more important than stuffing…
Through this experience, God quickly brought to mind more important expectations this Christmas season. Like what do people who never go to church except on Christmas and Easter expect when they walk into service? Do they walk in for church service expecting to meet kind, loving and patient church people but in reality sometimes find people too busy to even stop and say “Hello”? Even more, have you ever contemplated what your non-Christian friends or co-workers think as they watch you during the weeks leading up to Christmas?
What are their expectations of Christians? It’s no surprise that when we tell others we are “Christian”, they place certain expectations on us and our behavior, and I think that is appropriate. Are we showing our unsaved brothers and sisters unconditional love, grace and sharing words with them about Jesus during this holiday season, or do they see us in this mad frenzy, caught up in overindulgent gift buying, more concerned about what we will “get” this Christmas rather
than what we can “give”?
The truth is, this is the season – this is the time – for churches and Christians to shine like no other time of the year. It’s the only holiday that has Christ in the name. We have an opportunity this Christmas to blow peoples minds and exceed any expectation they may have placed on us. We always have a greater reach with the Good News because it is a little more expectable and acceptable to talk about Jesus to others around Christmas. After all baby Jesus is the centerpiece of every toy manger scene we have and he is so cute and non-offensive.
Outside of church In addition to the church, we also have the opportunity to exceed expectations in the workplace and in our very own neighborhood too. I am not saying that we should only be kind and Christ-like around Christmas, but it is a great time to go above and beyond. It is such a great time of the year when walls come down between co-workers and neighbors and opportunities open up big time. In my neighborhood I only see some people once a year when they bring over their traditional cultural dish to celebrate ‘the season’ in their way. It is great to see them and opens up opportunities to exceed expectations of sharing our faith with them.
It isn’t very often that people you hardly know or see regularly show up at your doorstep and are open to conversation. If this happens to you this Christmas season, what will you use the opportunity to speak about?
If you took a few minutes to think about it, what have your expectations been about recently? When you come up with the answer, I think a good way to gauge whether or not you are on the right track is to compare it to what God’s expectations are for us. I believe one of God’s main expectations from us is a harvest- He wants us to thrive in bearing good fruit. Christ was victorious, and when we accept Christ into our lives, I feel that God waits and watches, overjoyed, for a fruitful harvest to begin in our life.
If your “harvest” has been…well, lacking lately, I want to encourage you to use this season, this amazing opportunity, to reap an incredible harvest for His Kingdom. Maybe you can invite someone you never would have invited to Christmas service this year. Perhaps you can share your testimony and the love of Christ with someone you normally wouldn’t share your faith with. Show those you come in contact with during the next few weeks how you are celebrating Christ this season and exceed everyone’s expectations…in His name.