Does God have no expectations?

A leap day discussion: In a blog with a good friend of mine he's made the argument that an expectation/obligation framework is a bad way of understanding our relationship with God. In essence God has no expectations of us, and thus when we respond to anything he has done, he has gratitude for whatever we do. Click the link to read what he says. And read my response. What would you say?


  1. What I would say (and did):

    Seven thoughts to ponder (that started out as 3):

    1. If God expects nothing of us, then why does He chasten us? If He already knew we would disobey, why the painful follow up? You ever see those kids writhing on the floor at Walmart because they didn’t get their way? You know, the ones whose parents have no real expectations of them? By way of contrast, God is a good father.

    2. Pardon the sarcasm, but “to whom much is given, of him much will be required” was not an oops moment for God when inspiring Luke’s writing of the gospel.

    3. Unconditional love is spot on, but that’s not what’s really on the table here. Unconditional acceptance is what is really being dealt with when we start implying God has no expectations. It is subtle Universalism at it’s finest. If God indeed has no expectations, then there is no such thing as an expectation, and we need to find another concept to describe all that stuff He tells us we must and must not do.

    4. “Without holiness no man shall see the Lord.” All men invariably invent one way or another to get to heaven without holiness. Holiness is God’s standard, his requirement, his expectation, and like most other commands that Christ sets forth, He tells us the consequence of not meeting it. Granted, you cannot do it yourself, but that fact doesn’t make the expectation go away.

    5. Let’s just be honest, we can’t meet any of God’s expectations (requirements, standards, or whatever we want to call them) without His Spirit. I don’t want to sound accusatory, but in many ways it’s easier for the “do it yourselfer” in each of us to just deny the existence of such expectations.

    6. “Why do you call me Lord and not do what I command?” If a command is given, unlike a suggestion, it is expected that the orders are carried out. Even the Roman Centurion (at whose faith Jesus marveled) understood that concept. What kind of authority sets forth commands and does not expect anyone to obey them? How great and praiseworthy is the Authority that has expectations but also empowers His subjects with the ability to fulfill them! The sacrifice of Christ and the Holy Spirit give us the ability to meet God’s expectations, should we choose to give up control.

    7. We can surmise all day, but God’s real preference is in His word. If any man resists sin and forgets about God, then he’s not resisting sin at all. We’re going to sin no matter what, what matters is that we do as God requires and repent. Whether we think we’ve sinned or not, we’ve fallen short. The really cool thing about it is that once a man is truly saved, that is exactly what he desires to do when he falls short of God’s expectations, repent. Just because we desire it in our Spirit doesn’t mean He no longer requires it, it just means He’s written it on our hearts.

    8. If God has no expectations, why are we called to repent and what is there to repent of? It follows suit that if there are no expectations, there is nothing to repent of. I think we would all agree that without repentance, there is no connection or relationship with God, and the point that is purported to be missed will have found it’s way completely off the map.


    Ok, I meant 8 points (but here’s another):

    “But mostly I want to communicate that the belief that God lacks expectation of me quantifiably improves my life/spirituality.”

    Please don’t take this the wrong way, but is that is really to be our goal as believers? What we believe about God is often so apparent in the things we seek after. We need to examine ourselves. Myself included.

  2. "What we believe about God is often so apparent in the things we seek after. We need to examine ourselves."

    What are you trying to say?

  3. Big smile. :)

    Thanks for your question Lydia. It is easier to understand in light of the article it was in response to, where the author shares with his readers his revelation of the lack of God's expectations and how it has freed him.

    Now, I reserve the right to be wrong, but it doesn't appear that the author was talking about taking up his cross or denying himself to follow Christ when he said “But mostly I want to communicate that the belief that God lacks expectation of me quantifiably improves my life/spirituality.”

    I was using the quote in order to point out how far modern "spirituality" often is from biblical Christianity. Paul told believers to examine themselves to see if they are in the faith, he said this to professing Christians just like you and I. In doing so, one of the major questions we must ask ourselves is this: what is important to me? If the answer is seeking to quantifiably improve my life/spirituality then it seems that the focus is on me, and not God. Although at first glance it seems to be a noble goal, but upon closer examination (not unlike our own beliefs) it falls short of representing God's desire for us.

  4. I judge that you're making a judgment based on one sentence. Do you know what he meant by "spiritual life?" To me, that means my relationship with God. Are you scared of the word "spiritual".
    Yes, I did read the article.

  5. Thanks Lydia! :)

    There are a hundred rabbit trails that you and I could head down at this point, but I'll try to get to the heart of the issue so we can get back to our lives. The recognition of the authority of God's word and a firm understanding of salvation are keys to understanding where I am coming from. I don't know how to better phrase this, because you can't hear the tone of my voice, and I want to speak gently. I could be wrong, and I really hope that I am, but the writings in your 'Spective blog would seem to suggest that you possess neither of these.

    Any relationship with God that is founded on anything other than the redemption and justification found in the sacrifical death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is akin to the relationship that a death row inmate has with the guard who will soon become his executioner. The inmate can send kind and thankful notes to the guard, give him gifts, tell him he loves him, call him his best friend, or even sing him songs, but unless a pardon comes, the guard will do his job and carry out the lawful sentence when the appointed time arrives.

    It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of a living God. Every human on the planet will find their way into his hands after they die. Some will fall there, and it will indeed be fearful. But others will not have to fear because they will have already placed themself there by heeding the warnings in the bible and placing their full faith in the sacrifice of His Son.

    This is why Christians preach the gospel, because without a firm understanding, acceptance, and appropriation of it, the only "relationship" we will have with God is the brief moment when He tells us to depart from Him because He never knew us.

    I probably won't respond anymore unless you absolutely need me to. I will read your response though. I think you and I have seriously differing views of the word of God and, as a result, who God is. I don't dislike you for it, I just disagree. I can't convince you of the truth set forth in His word, only He can. So I feel that any further attempts on my part may be in vain. Please understand my heart. :)

    I don't know you Lydia, nor do I know your husband Josh, but I encourage you both not to be offended at my suggestion that we all examine ourselves (again, myself included), because I didn't invent the idea. But seriously though, the price of being wrong about our relationship to God is too high.

  6. Brian,
    This has turned out to be an interesting conversation, hasn't it? Frank, are you sitting back and laughing?
    Ok, I admit, I feel a little hostile towards you Brian. It's because I felt like you misunderstood my husband's heart. It's also because of the voice in your writing that says that you have the answers and we don't.
    I know I don't have the answers, and I don't think you do either. Do you know how many Christian views on God there are? Do you know how many Christian interpretations of the Bible there are? There are many different views coming from many intelligent and saintly people. Are they all right? Are they all wrong? Who is right and who is wrong? Who can assert that they are right?
    I appreciate you saying that you recognize that we have seriously differing views of the word of God. We do. It makes it impossible for debate.
    I wonder what you read in my blog that would make you think I have no understanding of the authority of God's word and of salvation.
    You sound like a teacher of the word, or a pastor, or both. You say things pretty well.
    Just to give you some of my background, I'm the daughter of pastors. I grew up seeking God. I earned my BA at a bible college, and then was appointed as a pastor at a church. So just know that I have heard a lot. I have prayed a lot. I have thought a lot. I'm left with no answers. I think that God's ok with me being on a journey to find better understanding of him. I really want to be closer to Him. I want to get better at seeking Him. I am afraid of dying. But I cannot silence the doubts that I have about the gospel I've been taught all my life.

    What you told me in you last comment is not new information--I've heard it my whole life. It sounds like a broken record of a sermon.

  7. "Frank, are you sitting back and laughing?"

    Lydia, I'm not entirely sure how to take that comment. I don't know who Brian is and it seemed like you guys had a pretty interesting conversation going on here. however, I have been posting non-stop on a lot of things of of late so forgive me if I haven't been monitoring too closely. Plus work has gotten in the way of a few things.

    As to your question I would raise the issue, that while many godly Christians have disagreed on many things (hey even I don't believe in the rapture and am not too keen on literal six day creation) there are things that we see in Scripture and Church History that we all can come into very close agreement. The Trinity, Salvation, primacy of Scripture come to mind. As to the debate at hand, I stand by the comments I made on Josh's blog, if only to help him think through all the major points. Hope that helps. I may post more seriously about this in the future. And I may start posting rules for commenting on the page. But you two seemed to keep it civil. And to answer your question. I've not been sitting back laughing.

  8. I made that comment about you in a very light hearted tone.
    I'm not trying to prove you or Brian wrong. I think it's good to challenge Josh. After reading your comment, and Brian's comment I had a good conversation with Josh about expectation/obligation. I had a lot of questions for him.
    Thanks for responding to my comment.
    "there are things that we see in Scripture and Church History that we all can come into very close agreement. The Trinity, Salvation, primacy of Scripture come to mind."
    Good response! I agree--to a certain degree ;-)