Thursday, September 2, 2010

Ungreat Expectations

Photograph by Crystal Wolfe, National GeographicGeorge had attended church since he was a boy and now he was 60 years old. Everyone knew who George was, there wasn’t a Sunday that went by that George wasn’t in church. The truth however is no one really knew George at all. George had difficulty loving his wife. His children could not speak freely with him and felt no affection for him. George was not concerned about the poor and had little tolerance for those outside the church. George also tended to judge those in the church rather harshly. "Those kids shouldn’t be running around in the church; Look at what he is wearing to church; Why, I always liked the green carpeting, why change it? If it isn’t broke don’t try to fix it."
One day someone in the church asked George, “Are you happy, George?
Never changing his unpleasant frown, George replied, “Yes, Why?”
The church member then responded, “Well then George, you need to tell your face!”
You see George’s exterior mirrored his interior. The problem was George was not changing. He was stuck in his well practiced ways. But the most remarkable part of it all was, that if you brought this to the congregation's attention, they would have simply said, “So? That’s George, it’s just the way he is.”
No one seemed to care that George remained unchanged. No one called a special church meeting to consider this strange occurrence of a person who was not changing. No one really expected George to change, and therefore they were not surprised when that change did not happen.
They did have other expectations of George. Everyone expected that each Sunday morning George would be at church. He would sit there, right were he always sat. They trusted that George would take communion like he always did. They knew that George would read the scriptures, and give his offering faithfully. Whenever called upon George would help with moving the tables and chairs or volunteer on church work days. George was a faithful member of his church.
But people did not expect that day by day, month by month, decade by decade, George would be more transformed into the likeness of Jesus. People did not expect that he would become progressively more loving, more joyful, and more holy. So they were not shocked when it did not happen.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” (2 Cor. 5:17).
But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.” (2 Cor. 3:18)
that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.” (Eph. 4:22-24).
What is the expectation in your church?
(I adapted this story from a sermon I heard by Chip Ingram).


  1. Richard you have written an lot of good stuff but this is one of the most hard hitting pieces yet. What if we expected people to be transformed by the power of God? Now that question would transform the culture of a church all by itself if it were explored.

  2. This post hits harder than taking a crack at a 100 mph fastball!!! If "Christlikeness" were the only statistic we measured in our congregations, I wonder how much healthier our churches would be! Thanks so much for this, Pastor Richard!!!

  3. Thanks fellas, I guess the real questions to ask are: How do we communicate that goal, that expectation of transformation? How do we create an atmosphere that promotes life-change? How do we break out of the ingrained apathy toward one another's spiritual progress?


  4. In regards to "George", isn't it sad that nobody loved him enough to hold him accountable for his growth.

    When we hold people accountable in love for their growth, we are not judging them, but helping them be everything that God intends for them. When you do hold people accountable for their growth, one of two things will probably happen. They will get mad and leave or realize their stagnation and grow.

  5. Kevin, I have seen in far too many churches that no one notices or cares about George's lack of spiritual growth because many of them are in the same condition. Many have just gotten comfortable with the meager amount of God and Christianity that they have--and they don't even consider that it could be better: more joyful, more loving, and more holy.

    Somehow we need to connect with them in such a real relationship that they will see the contrast by our example--and then want some-o-dat!



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