I have some great expectations. I have great expectations for myself, my family, the church I pastor, and the community in which I live. I assume that you have expectations too. Maybe one of your expectations is to be able to open your refrigerator and find everything nice and cool. Likewise, you probably expect to open your freezer and find ice in the ice-maker and your meats and vegetables unfrozen. But maybe we can have greater expectations than these.
One of my great expectations is for the church I pastor to possess a “radical love” for Jesus. Some time back I remember reading a book entitled, “Not a Fan.” The author, Kyle Idleman, wrote about the difference between being a fan of Jesus and a follower of Jesus. A great way to explain the difference is by considering a Friday night High School football game. Some people are not active in the game; they are “fans” in the stands. Most often, they arrive at the game with an expectation that their team is going to win. Their favorite team has a good start, a sack of the opposing quarterback and an early touchdown. Their defense is looking well also. The fans who arrived with expectations for a win are happy, they are loud in their cheers, and they are happy to be at the game. However, the second half begins and the opposition scores two quick touchdowns and takes the lead. Suddenly, the “fans” are no longer fans. They are unhappy with the turn of events and they are now visibly and verbally dissatisfied with the turn of events.
Now there are also some people who arrived at the Friday night game with expectations for their team to win. They too like the looks of their team in the first half, for everybody likes a winner. But as the second half comes, we discover that these people are not just fans, they are followers. They cheer for their team and make verbal statements of encouragement even though their team is now losing. In fact, at the end of the game when their team has lost and things did not go so well, they still support their team. They don’t talk trash about the coach or the quarterback and they do not consider changing their allegiance and support to another team. They are steadfast in the support because they are not fans, they are followers.
In local churches, we see the same scenario playing out every week. Everyone has expectations, but some are fans and some are followers. This plays out not just in one’s relationship with their church, but also in their relationship with Jesus.
As I stated earlier, one of my great expectations is to see the church I pastor become radically devoted our relationship with Jesus. In fact, I want to see and hear about local churches that possess this kind of devotion. I expect that we will be like those in the stands on Friday night who remain supporters of the team, even when the team suffers loss. I expect that local churches will be as fervent in prayer as we are when we face sickness or tribulations. I have an expectation that our love for Jesus would not waver (but would grow hotter) even when Jesus seems inactive or non-responsive. I am expecting that as Christians we would give our all to encourage one another in our love and devotion for Jesus.
What are your great expectations for yourself and for the church you attend? What are your expectations of others and in what ways can you become more of a follower and less like a fan?
“Now to him who is able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us — to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20-21 CSV)
Carlyle Hall, Jr. is pastor at Castalia Baptist Church in Castalia, NC. Comments/questions are welcomed at firstname.lastname@example.org
Relationships can be messy. So for the month of December I want to write on the idea of Relationship Restart.
Relationships can be messy. Especially around the holidays, relationships between two people or within families can become stressed. For married couples, there is the stress of visiting families. For families who exchange gifts, there is the need to find additional monies to purchase gifts for others, and for those with children, there are Santa Claus expectations.
But generally speaking, relationships require work because healthy relationships don't just happen. From my experiences, we typically are much better at assuming things than we are taking time to research the facts. We all know what can happen when we assume.
For example someone can say something to us and we can allow our feelings or past experiences to interpret their words. Or we might see two people talking and we can suddenly assume they are talking about us.
Last Sunday morning in Sunday School, our class discussed the story of Joseph, specifically his encounter with his brothers after he shared the details of his dream (Genesis 37). We know Joseph was shown favoritism by his dad, but we don't know if Joseph intentionally sought to antagonize his siblings with his “coat of many colors.” Likewise, we don't know if Joseph shared the details of his dream because he wanted to upset his siblings. But we do know how Joseph's brothers responded.
Joseph's brothers were jealous. They made a decision to take the coat of many colors from him and throw him into a dry pit. They wanted to get rid of their brother, but instead of killing him, they sold him into slavery.
Seems unfair that Joseph would be betrayed by his own flesh and blood because of their jealousy and anger. But it happened and as Joseph said to his brothers sometime later, “But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.” Genesis 50:20 NKJV
In our relationships with others: spouses, parents, extended families, churches, co-workers, etc., we must accept personal responsibility for our jealously and anger. When we are offended, we choose to be offended. And when we carry our grudges, jealously, and anger for days, months, and for some people - years, we are hurting no one but ourselves.
So if your dealing with a messy relationship, take personal responsibility for your thoughts and/or actions. Let God deal with you about your attitude and allow Him to show you the inappropriate attitude that you possess. THEN, go to the other party and seek to make things right. Seek healthy, God-honoring relationships.
Carlyle Hall, Jr.