I'm attending an evangelism conference in Torrance next week, so my wife and I drove down early together to visit our daughter in Santa Monica. We had heard of a barbecue place in Venice called Baby Blues on the Food Network's Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, so we thought we'd check it out. Until my introduction to Sprayberry's in Newnan, GA, I had always considered the noun 'barbecue' to mean an event or a cooking apparatus. Then I ate a pork barbecue plate with brunswick stew. I discovered "barbecue' as a noun meaning amazingly tender and tasty meat cooked over low, slow smoky heat. So Sprayberry's hooked me, and Baby Blues continued to confirm that barbecue is THE best way to eat meat. And Baby Blues met my three criteria for an excellent dining experience -- friendly staff, great food, and prices commensurate with the quality of the meal. Those are my three expectations.
There's no barbecue in today's reading, but there are expectations. Three expectations. Jesus confronted the chief priests and elders and clarified God's three expectations, but they are not just what God expected from ancient Jewish leaders. God still expects these three activities from everyone He calls upon.
First, God expects transparent dialogue. God IS alive and He gets people's attention and speaks to them - through His creation, through His Word, through His followers, with immediacy through His Holy Spirit. God is a God who speaks. Are we willing to have an open and honest conversation with Him? Are we willing to pray with candor? The religious leaders who spoke with Jesus refused to answer His question. They didn't like the facts that their answers would reveal, so they didn't answer Him at all. They ducked and dodged in their conversation with God. Don't do that!
Second, God expects repentance and faith. At some point in an open and sincere conversation with God, God is going to broach the matter of sin in your life. He will expect you to agree with Him (He is GOD after all) that your sin is a serious issue with deadly consequences. He will expect that you will turn away from sin and put your faith in Him as the remedy for it. Jesus offended the religious leaders of His day by saying that the prostitutes were entering the Kingdom of Heaven ahead of them! But the prostitutes were repenting and the self-righteous priests were not. A hard truth to swallow, but the truth nonetheless. Don't expect to be in right relationship to God and heavenbound by any other means than repentance and faith in God the Son, Jesus Christ.
The third of God's expectations is fruitfulness. Once we have heard and answered the call of God, and out of a transparent talk with Him confessed our sins and turned from them to faith in Jesus Christ, God will then expect us to be productive as colaborers of His. God has a plan and a purpose for each of us. They are unique to every one of us, but fruitfulness is the common element. An abundance of godliness should tumble out of our lives. We should overflow with the character of Christ, bounteous in love joy, peace, patience and all the fruit of the Spirit. There should be plenty of good works that glorify God in our lives and the reproduction of new believers - disciplemaking. When God, who owns the 'vineyard' you've been placed in to live and work, comes for a harvest from you - what will you have to present to Him?
Everyday we go out into the world with expectations of how we ought to be treated and what we ought to gain. Shall we rather go out focused on meeting God's expectations of us?
Pray: Father, you made me, saved me and set me free to live a life of transparency, faith and fruitfulness. Help me not to forget Your appropriate expectations of me as Your beloved child.