God’s People in Hard Times

An Important Note To Students And Teachers

People are often betrayed by their expectations. When there is a guarantee, people are often unprepared for the “small print” exceptions or qualifications. When a problem arises, people expect the person or company who gave the guarantee to fix whatever is wrong—no questions asked. The same is true with a warrantee. The same is true with insurance. The same is true with “pre-purchase promises.” What we expect with our purchase/investment is not necessarily what we get. If we are not discriminating in our preparation, we become disillusioned with all guarantees, warrantees, insurances, investments, or promises. If expectations fail, it is always “their” fault, never “my” fault—it is never the result of my failing to be informed. “I did not know” is expected to cover all ignorance. We easily assume our expectations were/are correct—even when our expectations are unreasonable.

Unfortunately, the same is true with Christian spiritual expectations. People tend to look at Christian hopes and material ambitions as if they are the same. Christians often expect to be protected from hardship or harm because they are Christians. A key question: What is the origin of that expectation? It certainly did not come from the cross or from early Christian experiences!

What are God’s promises to Christians as they face and endure hardships? In a world in which people often endure hardships, is the Christian promise protection from hardship? Should the faith commitment of being in Christ be looked upon as a guarantee, a warrantee, or an insurance policy? Is what is possible in America in a prosperous middle class who reaps the advantages of opportunity and democracy automatically possible in a third world country with little opportunity and no democracy? Is Christianity for everyone no matter what their physical circumstances are or is it dependent on a particular expression of freedom and prosperity? Does Christianity exist for the poor in our society, or is it only for the prosperous?

Such questions are relevant for two reasons.

  1. Most of the people in our world live their lives below what is considered the poverty line.
  2. If we, as Christians, expect Christians to have no hardships, our struggles will increase as our living standard continues to change. Our expectations and our experiences will clash as we endure the reality of change.

If we as Christian individuals face and endure a declining lifestyle, has God failed us? Is the message of Christianity to the poor or struggling, “Become a Christian and you, too, will be physically prosperous with a wonderful life and lifestyle”?

This quarter the lessons will consider God’s message through Jesus Christ to a world that struggles with its realities. The lessons are intended to require you to think. The lessons are biblically based in a serious attempt to challenge the Christian to examine his (her) expectations. The challenge of the study is this: focus your faith in what God does in Jesus Christ for us, not in our physical expectations. Enjoy the study as you expand your faith in Jesus Christ.

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