Be real with Your Expectations

In every area of life we all have expectations.  That is true in the church as well.  We expect that our brothers and sisters are doing the best to follow God’s word, live a godly life, and grow the fellowship and unity of the church together.  When problems arise is when we begin to set our expectations too high and then they are shattered.  This happens when a brother or sister sins or falls short in some way, maybe just in our own minds.

We have to remember that the church (like I said last week) is made up of imperfect and fallible people.  That’s just the way it is.  Romans 3:23 tells us we’ve all sinned.  When expectations become a problem is when it begins to affect how we view our particular congregation and its fellowship. “We don’t have fellowship like that church”, or “I can’t stand how they don’t wear a suit and tie”, or “I can’t believe that sister so-and-so did that!”

Once you discover what God intends real fellowship to be, it is easy to get discouraged by the gap between the ideal and the real in the congregation. Longing for what God wants and disapproving of what we’ve got is strong evidence of spiritual immaturity Remember, we are to love the church passionately, regardless her faults.
On the other hand, settling for the real and not striving for ideal is apathy. As Christians, we should never be satisfied with the “status quo.”  God calls us to be greater than just “average.”  He has made His bride, the church, of imperfect people being built up into a holy, living, body.  We should treat it as such.
Other believers will disappoint you—that’s just how it is. However, that’s no excuse to stop fellowshipping with them (I know there are certain instances where this is required—1 Cor. 5:5)! Remember, the church is your family, even when they don’t act like it, and you can’t just walk away from them.  Rather, God tells us, through Paul, “I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love” (Eph 4:1-2).
People tend to get disenchanted by church for a plethora of reasons: hypocrisy, conflict, pettiness, legalism, neglect, etc. But, instead of being shocked and surprised, we should remember that the church is made up of sinners, including ourselves. Because we’re sinners, we hurt each other, sometimes on purpose, sometimes unintentionally. But instead of leaving the church or causing problems, we need to stay and work it out! Divorcing a church at the first sign of frustration or disappointment is a big sign of spiritual immaturity. Remember, there is NO perfect church to escape to. You’ll be disappointed with your new one eventually. Just something to think about.

– Scott

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