* Theme: Christians desire to be a part of the life of a congregation.
* Goal: to encourage Christians to involve themselves wholly in the life of a church.
* Need: Christians often expect a lot from a congregation without expecting much of themselves.
- Introduction about expectations in marriage
- Expectations in the church Family
- Unwritten expectations
- Written Expectations
- Conclusion: Nail the goal of encouraging the congregation to be fully involved in the life of the church.
Congregation of our Lord Jesus Christ,
One of the greatest causes for frustration and trouble in a marriage is unmet expectations. The couples that come to Pastor Jake or myself wanting us to marry them need to spend some time with us working through a time of preparation. Seeing the breakdown in the marriage relationship, many of the couple are happy to meet together. They want that time of preparation to help them get ready for a life together with one other person.
As part of the premarriage classes we spend a good deal of time talking about expectations. In fact, the book that we go through in preparation has an exercise in it where both couples write down what they would expect from their spouse in their marriage relationship. I expect bacon and eggs in breakfast every morning. I expect the toilet seat to be down.
This is a good exercise to go through because so often when a couple gets married a commits themselves to that mutual submission in marriage, they have no idea of these unwritten expectations of their new spouse. Almost without question, the first big fight of the marriage is going to be about unmet expectations.
Unwritten Expectations of the Church Family
The same is true of the relationship among fellow Christians in a church community. We are a family of people together. And as we join with each other and commit ourselves to mutually submit to each other, we come together with some unwritten expectations. These unwritten expectations might come from our traditions. They might come from our personal preferences. But just like in a marriage relationship, the unwritten expectations can be like a scab that we just don't stop picking.
Example of Unwritten Expectation Not Being Met
One unwritten expectation might be dress code at a worship service. At the church I attended during seminary, a new family began attending. They came from one of the other neighboring Christian Reformed Churches in town. They were hurt pretty badly by members in the other church and it all started with unwritten expectations.
They had been members of the church for a very short time and gotten involved. He was invovled in the men's ministry. His wife joined Coffeebreak. In her group in coffeebreak one day, someone started talking about a guy who showed up at church. This other lady couldn't believe how far things have gone down hill in respecting God. "Someone came to church the last couple of weeks with jeans and a NASCAR racing t-shirt on. What has happened to our love and respect of God." This lady new to this church and coffeebreak didn't say anything. Her husband always wore that NASCAR shirt to church. It was his favorite shirt. The one that he valued the most. The comments about her husband hurt. And it all originated in completely different unwritten expectations.
Unmet expectations can lead to broken relationships.
Thankfully, not all expectations are the unwritten. Many of them are written down. Since the death of Jesus Christ, we know that Scripture isn't a book of laws that make us holy enough to go to heaven. But as we are saved by the grace of Jesus Christ, and because we are chosen by God, the Bible gives tells us what God expects from his people in return. It tells us what God expects of us and what we ought to expect from ourselves and each other.
So what are these Written Expectations we ought to have of ourselves and each other?
Last week we talked about the first written expectation. We talked about Submission. It is written in Ephesians 5:21, “Submit to each other out of reverence for Christ.” It is expectation we should have out of ourselves. Its something we should encourage in each other. Last week pastor Jake showed us how if we are unwilling to submit to each other it destroys the unity and ultimate undermines the work of Christ that we are committed to together.
In our congregation here, if we truly want to be submissive to each other here, we can do a number of different things.
One way for many who have been worshiping here regularly is to join fully in the life of our church. Talk to pastor Jake or myself about how you can become an official member of the congregation. Membership makes relationships between us more concrete. We aren’t just here together because we like the worship or the preaching. Membership says, I am in this because I am willing to join together with you, and I want you to join together with me. Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior. And because I love Christ, I want to be apart of, to submit with, others who love him to.
The idea of submitting to each other might be more difficult for more seasoned Christians. Out of reverence to Christ, out of sheer glory for his death and resurrection, we ought to want to submit to the people that worship Christ along with us.
That is what Christ would expect from his followers, and it is what we ought to expect from ourselves. Submit is the first expectation of people rescued by Christ.
The second expectation of follows very closely with Submit. It is Sacrifice. The death of Christ on the cross stirs the hearts of Christians to want to give themselves up for Christ and spreading the gospel.
Christ also expects Sacrifice from his people. And, we should expect sacrifice as well. Romans 12 tells us that we need to be living sacrifices giving our whole selves over to Christ. Dedicating everything we are an have to advancing his kingdom in the world. Part of that sacrifice comes up in the passage that we read for today from Galatians 6. It says in verse 9, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”
Doing Good for Each Other
Let us not become weary in doing good. It is a command for Christians. It is one of those great expectations that Christ has written down for us. Do good to each other. Sacrifice of yourself for the good of the people around you.
In some passages it tells us that we ought to be sacrificing for the sake of our neighbor. That is a part of sacrifice. But here we are told more specifically that Christ expects us to be sacrificing of ourselves for the good of the people around you in the church. The passage calls us the family of believers that are doing good for each other, looking out for the people who need help, for sure. But what Christ expects from us and what we ought to expect from ourselves is sacrifice, doing good to anyone and everyone around us in the Christian family.
What better way to show people what the grace of God is all about. When they see Christians, not just griping about bad government policies, or bickering amongst themselves all the time, when people see that the people in God’s church look out for each other and sacrifice for each other, that is when people begin to see that there is something to this grace of God thing. It can inspire love and fellowship and forgiveness and peace.
Giving of Offerings
One way we also sacrifice is during the time in our worship service where we give our offerings.
I know the tax people consider these charitable donations. But, that really doesn’t sound right. We don’t donate to God do we. We might donate to the church or to the youth group, but the time in our worship service is the time for us to give our offerings to God. The expectation from Christ is that we will give offerings to God.
Through these offerings we are giving to God and we are doing something good for each other and for the kingdom around the world.
I know membership meetings haven’t been highest of the priority list of many people lately, but I think we all should be there. We have a membership meeting coming up in a month. We look at how the offerings were spent. Together we hold each other accountable to doing good with what money we offer together to God.
And, as boring as a reviewing a church budget sounds, the one thing it shows is how that simple practice of sacrifice, offering our ten percent back to God, helps so many people. It helps teach the kids in our Sunday school. It helps train people for ministry through the Seminary. It helps bring relief to places hit by hurricanes and disasters. All of that happens when we do what Christ expects of us and we should expect of ourselves. Sacrifice by giving our offerings.
So a few of the written expectations we hear from Scripture is Submit, Sacrifice. And the third great expectation that comes from God’s word is encourage. I tried for the life of me to find another word that started with S, but it just isn’t in there. Submit, Sacrifice, and the third expectation we can expect is Encouragement. Hebrwes 10:25 says, “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
Did everyone hear that right? It is talking about our gathering together like we do in the morning and evening. The reason for our gathering together is not because we should expect to see each other worshiping God together. That might be part of it. But the reason that we should never give up gathering together with this people in this congregation is because you want to encourage them.
That is something that Christ expects of us, and that we ought to expect from each other. When style of worship, or type of service or whatever makes you feel like, I am not going to be a part of that. It is about having our hearts able to worship, but worship is also about every single other person sitting in the pews as well. To encourage them in the faith. To show them that you support them in their relationship with God. Coming to church is always more than being about ME. It is first of all about Christ, and his grace to us. And then it is about US, together Submitting, Sacrificing, and Encouraging each other as we continue in this world.
This is God’s will from his word all God’s people say. AMEN.