This is the third article of three regarding church expectations. In my first article, I asked “What do you expect from the church?” In the second article, I wrote to answer the question, “What does your church expect from you?”
Let’s look at what the Bible says in regard to church expectations. If you have heard of the phrase, “paradigm shift” then you’ll understand that this is nothing like what my first two posts talked about, but is rather a whole new way of understanding ecclesiastical expectations.
First, it must be said, that Christians are the church. Straight and simple, followers of Jesus Christ are the Biblical church. The church meets in a building on Sundays and many times, during the week, but the building is not the church. The building is just a gathering place. (1 Corinthians 12:27; Romans 12:4-5; 1 Peter 2:5)
Next, the Bible refers to Christians in the original Greek language as the “ekklesia.” Ekklesia means “The Called Out Ones.” These are those who are called out from the world and have devoted their lives to their Lord and King, Jesus Christ. (1 John 2:15-17; 1 Peter 2:9-12)
So, acting as the church and living as one “called out” we can condense the expectations to these two principles.
- A Christian takes on the character of Jesus Christ. The character of Christ is directly opposite to the character of the world. In other words, we’re “called out” from the world to live differently. The Christian reflects Jesus just like the moon reflects the sun. Sheldon wrote “In His Steps” and asked the question, “What would Jesus do?” because we want to follow in his steps. Paul writes in Romans about being transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:1-2). When people see us, they should see Christ because Christ lives in us through His Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16; Philippians 2:5).
- A Christian should be fulfilling Jesus’ mission to make disciples (Matthew 28:19-20). We should live our lives “on mission.” The passage also says, to go, baptize, make disciples, and teach. This isn’t something only the pastor does but is a call for all Christians to do. We are meant to witness to the world what Christ has done in our lives. The early church members were scattered by persecution and took the gospel everywhere they went. Ironically, it was the apostles, who stayed home in Jerusalem while the believers spread near and wide (Acts 8:1, 4).
The Bible teaches that the church is made up of people who have taken on the characteristics of their leader, Jesus. And they are going out everywhere – workplace, school, community, etc – and replicating themselves by making more believers or disciples.
So how do church attendance, tithing, Bible reading, volunteering, and the plethora of events and ministries swirling around your local church building mesh with the biblical expectations of a Christ follower? They actually mesh quite well, in that they are a by-product of our living in the character of Jesus and doing His mission of reaching the lost with the gospel.
Church attendance, whether it be Sunday morning or mid-week, Bible reading, Bible study, Life Groups, and more all lend to developing the character of Jesus Christ within each one of us. Volunteering, helping with events, and connecting with other Christians all can be a means to making disciples.