As we get started into yet another year [Editor's note: this article was written on December 27, 1994], I thought that it might be helpful to address ourselves to the question of just what it is that God expects of us in this year that has just freshly begun. However, before we can really address that issue, there is a more fundamental question that we need to answer: why should we be concerned with what God expects?
There are several answers to this question, because God has several different personality quirks that address the quality of our lives.
First, there is that mysterious reality called the love of Jesus. No one has ever been able to explain it. It is beyond the reach of the sane human mind. There are some, whose minds skip along the boundaries of insanity, who think that Jesus loves us because we are lovable. There are others, whose minds bounce along in the sloppy slough of too much exposure to the human commitment to selfishness, violence, and meanness, who deny that any god in his right mind would love the human race. But, the testimony of Scripture, history, and all of those who have been brought by faith into a living relationship with Jesus, the Son of God, is that the love of Jesus is real. And, because it is, we should be concerned about what God expects of us this year because His expectations are motivated by His gracious love for us. He wants the best for us. We experience that best when we are sensitive enough to what He expects of us that we do it.
Then, there is that less mysterious reality called the great power of God. He has never given up final control of His creation. He has delegated a certain amount of temporary control to others (angels, devils, and men), but He has set a day of evaluation in which He will examine their use of the control He gave them. We ought to be concerned about God's expectations because He is going to call us to account for how we responded to them. He gave us a certain amount of freedom--to rebel or to serve--but He did not extend that freedom to the ability to escape the final day of judgment.
Then, there is a third characteristic of God's personality that addresses our need to be concerned about His expectations of us: His sense of fair play. Jesus, in ages long past, volunteered to descend from His lofty throne in heaven in order to become a Savior for mankind. He made a selfless sacrifice of Himself on the cross of a thief, and rose from the dead on the third day. He did this to purchase a block of humanity from the slave market of selfish living. In God's sense of fair play, He thinks that Jesus' work ought to be exalted as the most important standard of judgment in heaven and on earth. That means that all who despise the love and power of God (and, as a consequence, who treat the work of Jesus as a futility that is to be mocked) will be subject to His sense of fair play. Jesus died for mankind; and those of mankind who despise that love will end up dying forever to make up for their hateful rebellion. That's God's sense of justice and all of us will be subject to it sooner or later--some this week; some this month; some this year; but all eventually.