So Many Things Expected Of The Christian…

I have been thinking about a lot of things lately, and I am finding a very common theme that continues to permeate most of the things I am noticing and thinking about.  I am finding that there are so many expectations put on believers – far more than I expected.

Some of the examples I have seen lately:

  • A small group decided that they would pick 3 books of the Bible, and have each member read a chapter of each during the week so that we can discuss things that were learned through the reading.
  • A group decided that they really needed to better follow the great commission and focus harder on going out and making disciples.
  • I saw a blog post questioning the effectiveness of prayer, saying that we “have to” pray for x, y, and z, and that we should be praying for all peoples.
  • Numerous other things that are said that Christians “need” or “should” do.

All of these things are not bad things at all, and the going out and making disciples is a Biblical command.  However, there are two things that I struggle with in this area:  The first is the failure to recognize the effect of continuing to say things “need” and “should” be done.  The more people hear that, mentalities like the following have the potential to be formed:

  • It feels impossible to successfully do all those things all the time.
  • If I don’t do all of those things, I am failing, and I will feel guilty.
  • Even though I may not want to do these things, I’ll do them because they are expected of me.

The second is that the state of believers is not really assessed.  I guarantee that there will always be those who are struggling with their faith (like me) and who may not at all feel like going out and making disciples or praying for the nations with a group of people.  They may need some help.  It is never safe to assume that everyone will want to do x, y, or z.  But, in order to fit in, they may often do things they feel really uncomfortable with or that they don’t at all feel ready to do.  They may not feel comfortable to just volunteer that they need help.

I feel like the heart of believers is being neglected, and the focus is being turned instead to the things and behaviors that Christians ought to do.  What do you think?

 

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3 thoughts on “So Many Things Expected Of The Christian…

  1. I agree. We so often focus on the OUTSIDE show of what should be going on, when it’s the heart that matters. I used to be extremely guilty all the time because I wasn’t a good enough Christian doing enough for God. But the more I’ve come to accept God’s grace in my life, the more I can freely worship Him through my life without being weighed down by my or other’s expectations.

  2. If we understand the gospel rightly, we know that it isn’t what we do for God, but it is what he has done for us. Our obedience in areas of praying, reading the bible, making disciples are not “expectations” but instead they are the result of a relationship with God. Take your relationship with your spouse. You don’t do fulfill your role as husband out of expectations for marriage (as if you are following some marriage handbook). You do them out of relationship….living, relating, loving your spouse. The same is true for a Christian that rightly understand the gospel and is relating with God.

    “They may need some help. It is never safe to assume that everyone will want to do x, y, or z.” Josh, how would you recommend that we help those who “don’t feel like making disciples, praying, reading the bible, etc?”. If they aren’t doing any of these things…we know that their relationship with God is not at it’s healthiest. Just like a husband that is not spending time with is wife, is not learning more about her, and isn’t taking her out won’t be in a healthy marriage.

    For some people it is a heart issue (laziness, self-centeredness, apathy). For others it is a belief issue (relationship w/ God must be established first). Others it is a equipping issue (not knowing how to effectively read the bible, needing a tool to help pray, needs training on how to make disciples).

    So, how do we best go about helping those who “don’t feel like doing” the essentials of a disciple?

    • Jordan – That’s a good, and difficult question. I don’t think there is going to be anything close to a one-size-fits-all solution for those who are there. I can say, from my own personal experience, that for years I was essentially dead to the faith. For some reason (I can’t even recall why), I committed to reading the Bible for a while, and it transformed me (and still is). Also, having one-on-one discussions with people willing to have a good discussion with me (and not just preach at me) and observing genuine faith lived out in a few people’s lives has really helped. It’s one thing to know things about a religion, but its another to see it lived out in a way that is intriguing and desirable.

      I think, as I said in the post, that telling people all the time that we “need” to do this and that all the time is potentially dangerous for people in all different places in their beliefs. There are indeed certain things where “need” is applicable, namely, you “need” to have faith that Jesus died on the cross as a sacrifice for your sins for salvation. But, we end up using “need” and “should” in places where it’s more appropriate to say “it is good to do ___” instead. I understand that by saying “need”, we often say it for emphasis because we feel that it is very important, but many times it is not a true need. I think it is worth being careful with words here. The last thing we want to do with Christianity is paint a picture of the faith as a mile-long list of things we “need” to do. It is better to do good things because we want to do them, rather than just because we’ve been told we need to do them.

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