After writing in my last post about managing your kids’ expectations when teaching them to listen to God, I realized how little most of us knew what to expect on any faith matter when we became a Christian.
We were taught what to believe.
We were taught what to do with that belief.
We were taught the eternal result of that belief.
But most of us were given very little, if any, expectation of what we might think, feel, hear and experience throughout a life dedicated to Christ. That lack of insight into other believers’ inward experiences sometimes leaves us wondering if our experiences are “normal” for a Christian.
When my kids get older, I want to be mindful of this and equip them with some ideas of what they might expect (good and bad) in their day-to-day Christian life. Here are, based on my experiences, 40 things to expect from a Christian life (while acknowledging that not all of these apply to all people).
40 Things To Expect From a Christian Life
1. The strength of your spiritual life will ebb and flow. Faith is not driven by a simple on/off switch. It’s more of a dimmer switch with a broad spectrum of spiritual light that depends on how much attention you give it.
2. You’ll find that many non-believers take a condescending view of Christianity, implying (or directly saying) that being a Christian is a less critical/less thinking/less intelligent position than believing in nothing.
3. There will be days when nothing seems to make sense about God, Jesus, or the Bible. You’ll later realize those struggling days actually made your faith grow stronger.
4. The connection you’ll have with other believers will be unlike any other.
5. Your church and leaders in your church will let you down. (Always remember that Jesus never said to believe in the church. We are to believe in Him. When the church lets you down, that is a reflection of the imperfect nature of humans in the church, not a reflection of the perfect God we worship through it.)
6. You’ll change your mind about your beliefs on certain theological points multiple times. You’ll realize that’s OK because there are things for which we simply don’t have clear answers.
7. God will seemingly disappear from certain periods of your life. It may be in ordinary times, times of joy or times of pain. But when you look back on those times, you’ll realize more often than not that it was you who moved away from God, not God who moved away from you.
8. You’ll grow to understand that worship is more for you than for God.
9. The joy of serving others will far exceed the joy of serving yourself.
10. You’ll grimace watching Christian public figures fall into (public) sin and seeing the media take every subsequent opportunity to make a mockery of Christian values.
11. Material success will become less important the stronger your faith becomes.
12. Despite believing fundamentally in salvation by faith alone, you’ll sometimes find yourself wondering if you really are “good” enough or are “doing” enough to be saved.
13. You’ll look back on the “small voice” you heard in your head at various times and realize it wasn’t your own.
14. You’ll struggle with how to understand parts of the Old Testament.
15. When you are weaker in your faith, you’ll look at stronger believers and wonder how they got where they are. When you are stronger in your faith, you’ll look at weaker believers and yearn to help pull them closer to God.
16. People who don’t know you’re a Christian will make insulting statements about Christians in front of you.
17. People who know you’re a Christian will make insulting statements about Christians in front of you.
18. You’ll experience both answered prayers and unanswered prayers, but usually won’t understand why the answered prayers were answered and the unanswered prayers were unanswered.
19. As you mature in your faith, you’ll graduate from seeing it as a way to ensure you don’t go to hell to seeing it as a beautiful relationship with your Creator that begins now and stretches into eternity.
20. You’ll wonder why God didn’t choose to make Himself more easily and clearly known.
21. You’ll realize during a sermon on the book of Revelation that you really have no idea what is in the book of Revelation.
22. You’ll remember how fleeting life is and how important faith is every time someone you know passes away.
23. You’ll be blown away by God’s amazing creation while watching a beautiful sunset.
24. You will have new insights every time you read the Bible…even if it’s a passage you have read hundreds of times before. The Bible will speak to you differently in each of life’s seasons.
25. You’ll read the fruits of the Spirit and think your life looks nothing like that. Then you’ll realize how much worse your life would look without the Spirit.
26. Some struggles will be lifelong, requiring constant dependence on the Lord.
27. You’ll feel significant sorrow for not talking to a non-believing loved one or friend more about God before they passed away.
28. You will most truly experience gratitude for the enormity of what it means to be forgiven when you fail the most.
29. You’ll feel angry at God either on your own or on another’s behalf.
30. There will be people you share your faith with many times who never come to know the Lord. (Remember that it’s only your responsibility to share the Gospel, not to convert someone. That’s God’s job.)
31. You’ll see that it is often the people you least expect to become a Christian who do.
32. You’ll be amazed that God continues to love you through so many ups and downs of your faith and so many personal failures.
33. People will accuse you of being arrogant for believing there is only one way to salvation.
34. You’ll read about life after death experiences, people seeing angels, people hearing God’s voice audibly and other “supernatural” encounters and wonder why that never happens to you.
35. If you’re a heart-led Christian, there will be a time when you realize you need to satisfy more of your intellectual questions to strengthen your faith. If you’re a head-led Christian, there will be a time when you realize that all the head knowledge in the world is not sufficient to transform the heart.
36. You won’t always want to pray for your enemies but you’ll understand why you should.
37. Your satisfaction from serving others will come from fulfilling your Godly calling, not from the response of the people you served.
38. You’ll find that most Christians readily admit that they occasionally doubt the existence of God, but that Atheists rarely admit they occasionally doubt His non-existence.
39. You’ll realize there is a giant gulf between knowing about God and knowing God personally…likely because you’ll be stuck in that gulf for a while yourself.
40. You will see that some of the kindest, most extraordinary people in the world refuse to give their life to Jesus, and feel humbled being reminded that it is only through the grace of God that you are saved.
Which of these resonate most for you? What would you add?