Anyway, I was thinking about meeting expectations. I have no way of knowing exactly how many people visit Pulpit Pages expecting to find new comments posted here. If you are disappointed in my efforts, then I haven't met your expectations. I know I am not regular enough to be considered "dependable" in the social media venue, but at times it just isn't viewed as a priority. As I have said in the past, I am blessed to pastor a great church and I want to ensure that I am giving them all the attention I possibly can.
Here is the real depth of my thoughts on meeting expectations. We all have certain expectations related to various aspects of our lives. Sometimes those expectations are met, and at other times they are not. I was wondering how we measure up in light of God's expectations for the church. Could any of us genuinely say that we are truly meeting the expectations that Christ has for His church? Some are certainly doing better than others, but I think it is safe to say that none of us are doing all we can, measuring up to what our Lord expects.
I have thought about three simple things that would be a great start, at least in trying to meet the expectations Christ has for us. The first of these is:
1. Commitment - This is an area that seems to be lacking in the average church in America. We can make any excuse we want to try and justify our lack of commitment to the Lord and the church, but the fact remains, we are failing miserably in commitment to the Lord. If we are aren't committed to the Lord, His church, and His work, we have failed to meet God's expectations for our lives. Mark 12:30 - And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. It isn't possible to consider the Great Commandment Christ gave us and not see the need for commitment. It is impossible to love something will all your heart, soul, mind, and strength (literally all your being) and not be committed to it. If we lack commitment to the Lord, we are not meeting His expectations!
2. Compassion - This too appears to be an area where the average church is failing to meet expectations. It goes hand in hand with our commitment. If we were as committed to the Lord as we should be, we would also possess great compassion. Mark 12:31 - And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these. Once we love the Lord as we should, completely and entirely committed to Him, then we must love our neighbor as we love ourselves.
That is very simple to comprehend, but it is quite difficult to put into practice. Most churches, and individual Christians, speak of a desire to see the lost come to Christ in salvation. We talk of the great need to reach out in our communities and compel them to come to Christ. Some are even willing to take the time to share the Gospel with others on occasion, but do we really possess the compassion we need? I really think we are failing in this area as well. We may think of it on Sundays or Wednesdays, but most of the time we are so consumed with our daily lives and needs that we fail to love others as we should. If we lack compassion, not loving our neighbor as we love ourselves, we are not meeting the Lord's expectations!
3. Conviction - This is an aspect that will vary from time to time, and within certain areas or congregations, but as a whole, we are failing to meet expectations in regard to Holy Ghost conviction in our lives and services. I stand amazed at times at the lack of conviction we experience. There are times when I know that the Spirit is working within the service or in a particular situation, but there is no response, no movement toward Him.
Isaiah 59:2 - But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear. Jeremiah 5:25 - Your iniquities have turned away these things, and your sins have withholden good things from you.
I have given this much thought, and I am convinced that it is due to a lack of conviction in our day. Our personal lives are so consumed with meeting our wants and desires that we have given little, if any thought, to the things of God. There is little personal reflection regarding our spiritual condition prior to the services. We are surrounded by sin and wickedness and it seems as if many have grown accustomed to it and even numbed by it. Our weeks are spent indulging the things that appeal to the flesh, with no preparation to meet with or worship the Lord, and then we wonder why folks aren't responding to the call. Our services are cold and indifferent, and sadly, many assume this is the new "normal" for the modern church.
No, a thousand times, NO!! We must not assume that all is lost and God is through with the church. May we as God's people come before Him with repentant hearts, confessing our sin, and seeking His holiness. May we spend some time in honest reflection to our spiritual condition and beg God to cleanse us of our apathy and defilement, and then move forward in our Christian lives expecting God to move among us once again.
We may seek to place the blame for lack of conviction on any number of areas, but I think if we would be honest, we will have to admit that the lack of conviction in our lives and even in our services lies squarely on our shoulders. It is due to a lack of purity in our lives. If our lives are lived in such a way that God cannot bless us with His presence, how can we expect to experience conviction that is essential to the drawing of the Spirit. If we lack conviction, we are not meeting the Lord's expectations!
Where are you in your personal relationship with Christ? Has the Spirit done an evaluation of your heart? Can you honestly say that you are meeting God's expectations? If not, and I am sure that most of us aren't, may we seek God in confession and repentance with a desire to genuinely meet His expectations as much as we possibly can!