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.