Expectancy and Agenda

Expectancy and Agenda

Rev. Carl Greene

SDB Church Hebron, PA

 

Go back to the year 1985ish with me. Picture a boy named Carl along with his brother opening Christmas presents with their parents. Wonderful expectancy filled the room as the boys dreamed of what was inside the packages. The parents swelled with joy as the boys celebrated the good gifts they received. Then, “it” happened. After all the gifts were open, said boy named Carl exclaimed, “Aren’t there any more?”

A quick side note is of importance here — now that I have been through the ordination process this past year, I realize that perhaps my response was not entirely appropriate? What happened was that I had bridged the gap between expectancy and agenda. Expectancy is looking forward to what is being given. Agenda is when you have a certain amount or type of loot you want to haul in. Expectancy and agenda can be easy to distinguish with Christmas gifts — but perhaps not so easy with mission and ministry.

Agenda has a way of pulling us off course to settle for good, rather than God’s preferred best. Be honest. When we get involved in ministry and mission — when we say “Here I am” to participate in youth group, or worship ministry, or Bible study, or whatever happens to be your passion to serve — is it with expectancy or agenda? Is your agenda a certain number of people, a certain level

of study, certain outcomes, that people will acknowledge how great the group is, that you will achieve some sort of success? Those are certainly not bad things in and of themselves — but they are good compared to God’s best.

The “Here I am” phrase to make ourselves available to God’s service is a dangerous one. In Genesis 22:1, Abraham says “Here I am” prior to being told to offer his beloved son Isaac as a sacrifice. In Exodus 3:4, Moses says “Here I am” prior to God telling him to go to Egypt and lead the people — even though he does not want to. In 1 Samuel 3:4-8, Samuel says “Here I am” and God tells Samuel a devastating message he does not want to have to share with his guardian Eli. In Isaiah 6:8, Isaiah says “Here I am! Send me.”— and God tells Isaiah to bring His message to a people who are not going to listen to Isaiah. In fact, their hearts will only be hardened as they hear the message. In Acts 9:10, Ananias says “Here I am, Lord” just before the Lord tells him to find Saul, the one Ananias would rather avoid at all costs. Clearly, “Here I am Lord” is a dangerous phrase — it boldly states that expectancy of God being glorified trumps agenda success.

How often is it that we tell God, “Here I am”— merely to serve out our own agenda? Here I am, God — for a better job, receiving an award, accolades for the Bible Study I lead, or maybe having friends come to church when I invite them. I am here for that, God — but not uncomfortable situations. I am more interested in agenda than dealing with sin in my life, dealing with messy situations in my life, confessing idols I place ahead of you, or working through strained relationships with people around me.

Funny how agenda uses religious talk to justify wrong motives. So how do I truly engage with expectancy as I join God in His work through, in, and around me? Simply stated, through education. Moving from a counterfeit agenda to a God-glorifying expectancy requires knowing His promises more than our circumstances — again, that’s education. Deuteronomy 6 lays out an educational road map for moving from agenda to expectancy. That is a road map we’ll explore together at General Conference 2016.

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