Expectations all out of kilter

The curse of modern Christianity is that we expect–

–little of the Lord

–too much of the church

–and nothing of ourselves

And because we expect LITTLE FROM THE LORD, we are powerless, prayerless, weak, ineffective, and defeated.

Because we expect TOO MUCH FROM THE CHURCH we are frustrated, demanding, self-centered, and end up church-hopping or pastor-terminating.

Because we expect NOTHING FROM OURSELVES, we are lazy and spoiled, passive and shallow, and get offended when asked to do anything outside our comfort zone.

Luke 7:18-35 deals with expectations in three areas: What we expect of Jesus, what we expect of the preacher, and what we expect of ourselves.

Bottom line: We should expect more from the Lord, demand less from one another, and plan to give more of ourselves.

One. What we expect of Jesus.  Luke 7:18-23

In prison, John the Baptist heard of Jesus’ ministry.  Is He the One? John had baptized Jesus, but since then had not heard the kind of reports he had anticipated. Now, from his jail cell, he sends messengers to ask, “Are You the Expected One?”

The messengers came, talked with the Lord, and then watched Jesus work. They returned to report to John that the lame are walking, the blind are seeing, the deaf hearing, lepers are being cleansed, the dead are getting back up, and the poor are hearing the gospel.  John died satisfied that the Savior had arrived.

John rightfully had high expectations of Jesus.  In the same way, those who claims to know Jesus and believes his Bible will also.  Jesus said, “I am the Light of the world.”  “I am the Bread of life.”  “I am with you to the end of the world.”  Why shouldn’t we expect a great deal from such a One as this?!

Every time we walk into the house of worship, we ought to say, “Jesus is here today–anything can happen!” Everyone who is indwelt by the Holy Spirit should expect great things to happen every day of his life.  We should expect–

–to have a zeal for righteousness and a hatred for anything displeasing to the Father.

–to have a joy indescribable and a peace incomprehensible.

–to have a soul hunger for fellowship with God in prayer and worship

–to have a boldness in witnessing to the lost, unsaved, unchurched

–to have a revelation and a made-to-order lesson every time we open God’s word to read it.

Two. What we expect of the preacher. Luke 7:24-28

The Lord turns to the crowd and asks, “What did you expect from John?  What kind of preacher did you want him to be?”  And He gives them multiple choices:  a) A flimsy reed that tilts with the wind? b) A sissy celebrity dressed in soft finery? c)  A real, dyed-in-the-wool, born-again, prophet who feared no one but God?

A) The control freaks–every church has a few–want the preacher to be pliable, to find out what the people want, then give it to them.  “Do it our way” is their theme.  Take a poll.  They want to give the preacher his orders.  After all, they tell him, the pastor serves at the pleasure of the congregation.  And sadly, some preachers play that little game and cow-tow to the influential people in the church.

The crowd found out real quick that John did not take orders very well.  No authentic man of God should.  In 2 Corinthians 4:5, Paul said, “We are your servants for Jesus’ sake.”  That means I do indeed serve you, but I do not take orders from you.  The shepherds get orders from the Father on how to care for the sheep.

B) The luxury addicts want the preacher to drive the biggest car, live in a mansion, and belong to the finest clubs.  Why? To silence the voice against their materialism.  They want to buy him off, to purchase his convictions.  One pastor of such a church told me, “They want me to be their lap dog.”

John lived in the desert and depended on contributions from no one.  The religious big shots didn’t like that.  They couldn’t control him.

The pastor must always set the example in values, in giving, and in living simply.

C) The faithful want their leader to be a man of God, a prophet. At least, they say they do.  Jesus said, “You got more than you bargained for, didn’t you?” John was–until the coming of the Lord Jesus–the greatest man of God ever born of a woman.

Friend, watch what kind of expectations you put on the preacher.  Be careful you do not expect him to be popular to the world, a mover and shaker in your community, a fundraiser, a glad-hander, an administrator, a counselor to everyone with a problem.  You ought to expect him to be a man of God–to love the Lord, to pray, to spend time with the Lord, and to preach God’s Word.

And that leads us to…

Three.  What we expect of ourselves. Luke 7:29-35

The Lord told His hearers a parable of children at play.  “We played happy music for you, but you don’t want to play wedding.  We played a dirge, but you don’t want to play funeral.” Lest they failed to see the application, He explained: “John came like a funeral–calling on you to die to the old life, to mourn over your sins.  He renounced the world–and you accused him of having a demon. Then Jesus came like a wedding–calling you to a feast, to rejoice in the Lord.  He ate and drank–and you accused Him of gluttony and drunkenness.”  Make up your mind.  You can’t have it both ways.

There is something God in heaven expects of each of us, and we ought to demand it of ourselves–

–That we make a decision about Jesus, one way or the other.  He said to the church at Laodicea, “You’re lukewarm. I wish you were either cold or hot.”  As Elijah said to the crowd at Carmel, “How long do you halt between two opinions?  Get off the fence.”

–We ought to take God seriously, get tough with ourselves, quit making excuses, and give ourselves to the Lord, once and for all.

The curse of modern Christians is that we expect too little of God, too much of the preacher and the church, and almost nothing from ourselves.  This has got to stop or we’re in big trouble.

“All to Jesus I surrender, all to Him I freely give….”

 

 

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