We Need to Expect More from Christians and the Church

Monday Discussion

It is relatively early in the ministry of Christ, after the selection of the twelve disciples, that Jesus commissioned “seventy-two others” to go into the villages of Galilee to preach the gospel and heal the sick. These were not the close, inner associates like Peter, James, or John. Neither were they the twelve who went with him everywhere and who were sent on a similar mission in Luke 9:1-6. These are seventy-two others, seventy-two who didn’t have the kind of  “pulled-aside closeness” that the twelve had.

More likely, they were ones who had jobs and families and were able to hear and see Jesus only periodically. But they were given a task by Jesus who …

“sent them on ahead of him,
two by two, into every town and place
where he himself was about to go.”

You can read the whole episode in Luke 10:1-20.

There is so much in this passage to chew on but I want to look at just one thing. Look how much responsibility Jesus gives to those who only recently had become his followers. (see verses 2-16). Go and read the passage and think it through for yourself.

Three more items before I pose the question for Monday discussion.

  • Unlike these first century followers of Jesus, we can hear Jesus speak every day, multiple times a day in his word.
  • Unlike these first century followers of Jesus, we have the indwelling, guiding presence of the Holy Spirit.
  • Unlike these first century followers of Jesus, many of us have been “following” Jesus for many years.

Question:
What is wrong with us that we don’t trust and expect more to happen in a believer’s life than we do?

How do we correct our expectations and behaviors so that “our disciples” (terrible term) are capable of doing what Jesus’ disciples did?


6 thoughts on “We Need to Expect More from Christians and the Church

  1. Marty,

    You hit the nail with your question, “How do we correct our expectations and behaviors so that …?” If I am willing to be satisfied with less than a stellar walk/testimony on my part, what can I expect out of those whom I have been given to mentor and disciple?

    When will I realize that I have to live in such a manner that others will want to hear what I have to say and teach?

    It is not how much theology that I know, it is how much my life demonstrates transformation. And does my transformed life evoke a hunger for similar transformation in those who know me best.? My life must be lived for the glory of God, and nothing less.

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  2. Good question, Marty. I’ve wondered that myself for years – I assume you’re talking about the American evangelical believers here and here are a few thoughts from me about us.

    1. I think the ministry of the Holy Spirit is underemphasized.

    2. I think we fallen into synchretism with the American culture – we think too much about rights and privileges and benefits packages and retirement and not enough about Romans 12:1,2 living. We have settled into a “good enough” Christian living model and not a total surrender one.

    3. Dr. Bright talked about faith as a muscle, the more you exercise it, the stronger it gets. I think Jesus put these guys out on the edge and gave them a great faith exercise. We need to take more risks and ask God for greater things.

    There are lots more that come to mind. What do you think?

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    1. John, you caught my subliminal suggestion. Yes, I do think that it is partly an issue of adjust and raising our expectation. Neil Cole has the best slogan on this, “Raise the bar on what it means to be a disciple.”

      Mike, good to hear from you brother and that you are still on fire for Jesus. Raise the bar, depend on the Holy Spirit, settle for nothing less than a Bible-saturated, transformed life, and give disciples lots of opportunity to exercise their faith muscle.

      Jeremiah, maybe.

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  3. Slightly off topic – but one of the responses raise a question. In my thinking there is a dichotomy between the “faith as a muscle” concept and being baptized with the Holy Spirit. When the Holy Spirit was given there was an immediate transformation and power for witnessing (which you all have discussed in earlier posts), but the “faith as a muscle” concept requires a long faith and obedience in the same direction. So which is it and if the answer is both how does that work?

    Back on topic – as a non-pastor I have sometimes thought that a church should not have comfort zone activities available. Sometimes we need to be squeezed a little. Some comfort zone activities would be adult sunday school or small groups that do not have an active obedience component. Better, in my opinion, to have twenty minutes of teaching before opening the food pantry (witnessing, relying on God’s promises, union with Christ, overcoming fear, etc.) and regroup afterwards to see how things went than to have a small group that meets and goes home and the people do relatively little in between. There probably is a place for small group meetings but perhaps if it were more integrated with a service/ministry activity it would be better. Churches tend to replicate academic schools rather than trade schools but sometimes there is no replacement for learning by doing alongside an experienced teacher/doer.

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