Monday, November 11, 2013

Repentance and Lowered Expectations

It has been said by many, including me on this blog, that lower (or, for me, more realistic) expectations are an important key to happiness - that letting go of unrealistic expectations is critical to finding joy in our own individual journeys. I want to take that idea and discuss it relative explicitly to theology - and to draw an important distinction between unrealistic expectations and the type of hopeful expectations that are central to what I see as empowering faith and true repentance.

I think it's interesting that those who argue a "confess-only-and-be-saved" position basically are employing the lowest PRACTICAL expectation for themselves. Of course, everyone who argues it will say that relying totally on Christ and de-valuing our own actions is the highest form of worship and trust in Him - but, from a purely practical standpoint, it really is the lowest possible expectation for their own actions.

On the flip side, those who argue a "personal-works-only-earn-salvation" position do the exact same thing - but with an opposite focus. They use the lowest possible expectation for Jesus' actions and the highest expectation for their own efforts.

**Both are extremist positions, and both are inconsistent with how I read the Bible.**

Both bring a form of happiness (complacency), imo - since they are simple and give no real reason for what I believe to be "true" repentance. I see repentance as the result of a perceptual balance, that makes it harder to simplify into one fairly brainless formula, that leads to a degree of angst and concern and contemplation, that leads to self-reflection and effort to change - which is the definition of repentance.

It is basing that repentance on faith in Jesus as the Christ that creates the balance I see when I read the Bible - the type of balance that James teaches when he says that faith without works is dead, being alone, AND that Paul teaches when he talks of the need for faith and not just reliance on "dead" works. James seems to emphasize works, while Paul seems to emphasize faith - but they both teach a balance of the two.

Lower (more realistic) expectations of others (and even God, as described by others) is one thing - something I endorse, even as I try to help people improve in whatever way they can; lower expectations of EITHER God OR one's self as His child is quite another thing altogether, in my opinion.