So, it’s Thursday and I’m just now getting to the blog post, which usually happens on Wednesday. I sincerely apologize to all of you who, I’m sure, were sitting at your computer all day, constantly refreshing the page in anticipation of this weeks post. If it makes you feel any better, I’ve felt very uncomfortable about it all day, maybe even a little guilty for missing my self-imposed deadline. Even though I had good reasons for not getting to it yesterday, it’s still bothered me. Now, I realize that most of you probably don’t notice that I always post on Wednesday mornings and could care less if I didn’t get to it this week. But it was really getting to me. I felt like I was failing at something I had committed to. I wasn’t living up to my own expectations.
Expectations are a cumbersome weight to carry. Whether it’s your own expectations of yourself or the expectations that others have of you. Working in a church at Easter brings a huge weight of expectation, particularly in the creative areas of the church. Easter has become something of a Superbowl caliber extravaganza in many American churches. Huge spectacles with digital laser lights, angels flying around suspended from the ceiling and kids from the youth group wearing bath robes and leading livestock all around the auditorium (perhaps leaving little presents behind as they go). I’m not knocking Passion plays and things like that. They can be excellent tools to share the gospel and help us remember why we celebrate Easter. But, at our church we decided to opt out of the competition for the biggest, most extravagant Easter celebration and have done things much simpler over the past few years for very specific and strategic reasons. But I know that every year around this time, some people would rather see the big production. And those people will be disappointed on Sunday, no matter how much creative energy and focus we put into that hour. And that disappointment will fall like a weight on my shoulders. The weight of not measuring up to their expectations.
I recently found out that a friend that I care about deeply has actually resented me for some time now because of something I did (or, more accurately, something I didn’t do). And when I finally heard about it, it felt like someone hit me in the stomach. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I kept replaying situations in my head. What could I have done? What should I have done? Could anyone suck worse at being a leader than I do? And I felt crushed under the weight of it all. The weight of expectations I was unable to meet.
I’m not telling you all this so that you will feel pity for me. I’m sharing it because I know you feel the same way sometimes. The truth is, none of us can measure up to everyone’s expectations all of the time. If we’re honest, we can’t even measure up to the expectations that we lay on ourselves. Just like me, every decision you make is, not only, a choice to do something, but a choice to not do a ton of other things. And there will be consequences to every choice. Some big and some small, but every one will have consequences of some sort. And some will affect other people and they will be disappointed in you. Now, you can choose to live in fear of this. Always trying to please everyone and running yourself ragged trying to never let anyone down, or… you can choose to believe the gospel.
The gospel shows us that there is only one person that is entitled to judge our decisions and priorities. And, the truth is, you have already failed to measure up to His standards. But, in spite of your imperfection, in His grace, Christ has measured up for you. This is called the doctrine of imputed righteousness. It is half of the double transaction that takes place when we become a Christian; 1) Christ takes our sin debt upon Himself and absorbs the punishment and 2) His perfect righteousness is attributed to us. In Christ we are “made clean”, “spotless”, “holy.”
And here is why I brings this up… Christ’s perfection on your behalf frees you up to be imperfect. You no longer have to carry the burden of unattainable perfection. Christ measured up for you and because of this you don’t have to live under the pressure of measuring up to others expectations, or even your own.
Now, I am not implying that you don’t have to deal with the consequences of your actions. You may need to seek forgiveness or reconciliation with someone you have hurt. If it is an issue of sin, than you need to seek forgiveness and reconciliation with God. And if its not a sin issue, just some sort of decision that someone else wishes you had made differently, than you may just need to forgive them in your heart and refuse to carry their disappointment on your shoulders. No matter what the circumstances may be, you don’t have to be a slave to anyone or anything. It’s time to drop the weights. If you are counted righteous in Christ and God holds nothing against you, than who else could possibly hold something against you?