Do you ever get tired of living by the expectations of the culture around you? I do. Expectations can be healthy, a type of accountability. In a way, expectations are what people give you when they can’t or chose not to give you rules.
Living in a different culture gives me two sets of cultural expectations to abide by. Suddenly, besides the way that I have been raised to behave, I am given a new set of standards from a very different culture. Sometimes I am stranded when the cultures clash: Is it better to be evasive and deceptive or offend someone by being truthful? Either way, someone is unhappy.
In short, I forget to focus on God’s expectations, which might mean disappointing both cultures.
But are God’s expectations attainable? He was the one who placed me in this cultural conflict in the first place, so wouldn’t His expectations be the hardest to meet of all? And He does expect a lot:
“And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another” (2 Cor. 3:18).
His expectation is that we become more like the Son, more challenging than any cultural demand!
But He also remembers something that cultures forget: we are dust. Living to please cultural expectations would drain every drop of our resources, and like Solomon’s leech (Prov. 30:15), the culture(s) would still cry for more.
But God sees our limitations and coordinates them with His great expectation:
“As a father shows compassion to his children,
so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.
For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust” (Ps. 103:13-14).
He doesn’t forget our frailty; he knows what it is like to be a human. His expectation for us doesn’t change, but as we learn, His grace abounds.