What can we expect from God?

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Religion has always been an avenue that people have used to bargain for God’s blessing. If we do our part, we often think, God will do his part and grant us well-being of one sort of another. Let’s face it – the world can sometimes seem like a random and frightening place. People turn to God and religion in hopes of finding some measure of security, protection, and favor. All of this raises the question – What can we expect from God?

First off, the notion of pleasing or obeying God in order to gain favorable life circumstances as “God’s blessing” is false. The world is characterized by impermanence and was never intended to be the source of peace, happiness, contentment, well-being, and freedom. There is no measure of pleasing or obeying God that is ever going to change the fundamental nature of the world, which is impermanence. Thoughts, feelings, moods, finances, health, job, people, relationships, situations, conditions, circumstances, possessions, abilities, etc. are all characterized by impermanence and subject to change. And none of these things are entirely in our control.

As a rule of thumb in life, responding to situations as they require with wisdom and skill will yield a better result than responding out of ignorance and incompetence. Likewise, if we sow seeds of love, kindness, and compassion in our lives we are likely to experience a quality of life that is more enriching than if we sow seeds of hatred, selfishness, and bitterness.

But the idea that obedience, faithfulness and spiritual maturity should result in God blessing your life with favorable circumstances is false. If this were true, God really missed the boat when it came to Jesus, who experienced levels of physical, mental, emotional and psychological pain that few people ever have or will.

The reason why people are so caught up with seeking favor from God is that they wrongly assume that peace and happiness has something to do with better life circumstances. This is the spiritual ignorance that too often drives our lives and relationship to God.

The world is messed up in all the ways it is due to our spiritual ignorance. It’s that simple. Right now there is starvation, poverty, war, oppression, environmental destruction, racism, genocide, and a long list of other maladies that are a result of what WE are doing. It’s not Satan – it’s me, it’s you, it’s us. It’s not the demon of greed, the demon of addiction, the demon of violence, the demon of pride, the demon of infidelity – it’s my/your/our greed, addiction, violence, pride, and infidelity. What’s unfortunate about this are the people who suffer for the greed, pride, violence, addiction, etc… of others. There are people all over the world right now who live in poverty, oppression, hunger and abuse, and it’s NOT because they are cursed by God. On the other hand, there are people all over the world right now who live in prosperity, abundance and comfort, and it’s NOT because they are blessed by God.

So, what can we expect from God?

Let’s start with what God is not going to do. God is not going to indulge the notion of blessing you with favorable circumstances. God is not going to override the law of gravity or the law of impermanence to make you happy. Why? Because God is mean? No, because your circumstances are not related to true peace, well-being, and happiness.

Nor is God (or Satan) going to curse people with bad circumstances. We are the ones who created the mess, and we are the ones who must clean it up. But instead, we’d rather find someone or something else to blame to avoid taking personal responsibility for our individual and collective choices.

This sounds sort of depressing! What in the heck then can we expect of God???

Consider that the whole premise of the question is a bit flawed. It assumed there is “us” and there is some separate “God” out there somewhere, pulling the strings.

God is spirit. The likeness, image, being, nature of God is the underlying, unchanging and fundamental essence of who you and I are, and our true Self. That Self cannot be improved or diminished, is never threatened, and will never die. That Self is whole, complete, free, peace, wisdom, love, and well-being. What we fight and claw for in the world, we already are at the deepest level. What we seek God for in our obedience, faithfulness, and devotion, we already are at the deepest level.

What we can expect to be true is that we are never separated from God, peace, love, freedom, wholeness, well-being or each other. We can expect this reality to always be present in every moment because this reality is who we are. This is what Jesus meant when he said the Kingdom of God is within you.

This is what we are to learn on our human journey. This is the truth that sets US free.

Latest Comments

  1. Mia says:

    Dear Jim
    After realizing that none of the world’s religious ways produces the coveted peace and joy of our Lord Jesus, I went to Him and Him alone asking Him to live in me andHis life through me. I wanted my “flesh” to be replaced with Him. Ever since we started walking together this journey of life, there is nothing else and nobody else I desire more than just lving in Him, cuddled in His Loving Embrace.
    Blessings
    Mia

  2. thoughtsalone says:

    Very well articulated.

  3. Jennifer says:

    What does prayer look like for you…is it even necessary if He is within us?

    • Sherry Meneley says:

      I hope Jim answers this…
      But for me, it’s about acknowledging access to communication. If we believe Spirit is interceding, then it’s (our prayers, desires, needs) already known.
      For me, prayer is the way I keep acknowledging that I can be in relationship, that I am heard, I matter, and that I need and depend on Divine relationship – peace – discernment – etc…

  4. Susan P says:

    Thank you. I knew there had to be an explanation.

  5. JustJohn says:

    i noted to a chaplain this past weekend that i do not believe in prayer. a prayer is something you do in court – request favor. i already have god’s favor. to commune one-on-one with god, i merely ignore all i can of this world of illusion and listen and feel the light. let it guide my gut feelings rather than attempt to force-fit a template around my fears and wishes.

    god is not at a bargaining table. it doesn’t exist. it isn’t necessary. the teacher says we are loved, and our duty is to spread that love. period.

    • jason says:

      Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
      1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 | NIV | joy gratitude

      Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
      Philippians 4:6-7 | NIV | gratitude worry

      This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.
      1 John 5:14 | NIV | trust listening

      Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.
      Colossians 4:2 | NIV | gratitude

      Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.
      Mark 11:24 | NIV | faith receiving

      Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.
      Jeremiah 29:12 | NIV | worship listening

      Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
      Romans 12:12 | NIV | joy patience

      And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.
      Matthew 6:7 | NIV | speaking

      The Lord is near to all who call on him,
      to all who call on him in truth.
      Psalm 145:18 | NIV | trust reliability

      ‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’
      Jeremiah 33:3 | NIV | understanding listening

      “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”
      Matthew 18:20 | NIV | Jesus community

      Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
      Hebrews 4:16 | NIV | mercy

      But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
      Matthew 6:6 | NIV | reward The Father

      In my distress I called to the Lord;
      I cried to my God for help.
      From his temple he heard my voice;
      my cry came before him, into his ears.
      Psalm 18:6 | NIV | speaking listening

      But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.
      James 1:6 | NIV | trust faith

      Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
      James 5:16 | NIV | righteousness healing

      And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.
      1 John 5:15 | NIV | trust listening

      But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.
      Luke 6:27-28 | NIV | obedience blessing

      About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.
      Acts 16:25 | NIV | worship listening

      The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray.
      1 Peter 4:7 | NIV | second coming rest

      They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.
      Acts 1:14 | NIV | community

      You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.
      John 15:16 | NIV | obedience calling

      And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
      John 14:13 | NIV | Jesus The Father

      I cried out to him with my mouth;
      his praise was on my tongue.
      Psalm 66:17 | NIV | worship

      You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God.
      James 4:2 | NIV

  6. Puddleglum says:

    This struck me like those who complain that you just want a cadillac. That’s not true.

    I find that it’s not better circumstances people are looking for, it’s God Himself. When you have God your circumstances don’t matter. Instead we are told God is in you, but we are left with no OTHER to relate to. It’s hard to have a relationship when you can’t find Anyone to relate to.

  7. Ian says:

    Puddleglum’s point is one that I struggle / struggled with also before tossing in the towel. There was this inner drive to connect with something bigger than myself. Because of my background, social setting and religious influences I called the object of this yearning God. When you look at the way religious belief is promulgated, I think this is a common internal drive. Now that I’ve pulled back from some of those religious aspirations I still have a desire to make connections with something more than just me.

    We typically live relatively solitary lives where meaningful relationships are difficult and are often circumscribed. To meaningfully engage with a stranger is rare. But perhaps this is part of what we are missing? I’m no biblical scholar but some semblance of a memory still remains about Jesus saying that if you helped someone in need in tangible ways then you in a sense made a connection with Jesus also. Perhaps this is what is missing. We miss loving others and being open so that we may be loved also. To be honest I don’t know. It is a conundrum.

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