People choose churches for a lot of very peculiar reasons. Some judge a church by the friendliness of the people. Others judge a church by the size and beauty of the building. You would think more people would judge a church by the message that church represents and the message they hear when they go there. Of course, I guess in some cases they do. They go to hear a message that suits them, tells them they are all right, pats them on the head, and always cheers them up. Jesus must have seen attitudes similar to these, because in Luke 7:24-28 he addresses it. In John the Immerser, God did not send a preacher that fit into society of the day. He did not send a preacher to preach a social gospel and appeal to felt needs. He sent a preacher to preach His message and to prepare people for His coming. When Paul wrote to Timothy, he essentially told him that he should be like John–not like the typical orators, philosophers, or rabbis of the day. (1 Tim. 1:3-8). The role of a gospel preacher is indeed designed by God to provide what people need. But what people need is not always what they want. Regardless, a gospel preacher gives them what they need anyway.
People need to know the truth (1 Tim. 1:3-4a). People often assume they know the truth, when they actually just call whatever they believe the truth. It may even be a half-truth. But that is not what people need. People need the whole truth (Acts 20:26-27). They need nothing but the truth (Gal. 1:6-9). They need to be able to concentrate on the truth (2 Tim. 4:2-4). And they need the truth for people to have unity (John 17:17, 21). Jesus said, “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). People may want to hear a lot of things, but they need the truth.
People need to be aware of their responsibilities (1 Tim. 1:4b). Have you noticed how far some people will go, at school or at work or anywhere else in society, to avoid taking responsibility? This extends to every walk of life, but it manifests itself greatly in the spiritual realm. Christians have the responsibility to respect God above all (Ecc. 12:13), to revere Him in life and express that in worship. More than that, Christians have the responsibility to help others become stronger spiritually (Eph. 4:16), teaching, guiding, and correcting one another in the mutual pursuit of heaven. Thirdly, Christians have the responsibility to accept what God says. Period (Jude 3; Acts 6:7). It most certainly will be difficult at times, but that does not make it less of a divine expectation. These are not options. They are obligations. They are a Christian’s responsibilities (1 Tim. 3:15).
People need to have the right motives (1 Tim. 1:5). People sometimes think that we are only interested in external obedience…in things like worship, baptism, and attendance. But that is not the case at all. God cares about WHY we do things. Sincerity is not an excuse to ignore what God says; it is the very reason we should seek to do the best with what God ways. Therefore, it is essential that Christians love unselfishly (Matt. 22:37-40), seeking what is best for God and for others in every act in life (Phil. 2:4). Beyond that, Christians must commit completely (Matt. 5:8), making decisions on the basis of God’s will and only God’s will. Building on this foundation, Christians should develop personal integrity, having a good conscience devoted unto holiness (1 John 3:18-21). Thus, having taking positive steps forward from the heart, Christians must avoid hypocrisy, living with sincere faith before God and one another rather than playacting their Christianity (Rom. 12:9).
People need to be faithful (1 Tim. 1:6-7). This is not something we should just take for granted—of ourselves or anyone else. Christians, work diligently to keep your life in line with God’s Word (Phil. 3:17). Do not try to justify yourself by ridiculous arguments from scripture (Gal. 6:7-8), rather humble yourself through sincere repentance (Acts 17:30). Aspire to please God—not to be liked or thought wise by men (1 Th. 4:1; 1 Cor. 1:18). Jesus said, “Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Rev. 2:10). This includes far more than worship attendance and contribution; it is the expression of a life given back to God because of all God has already given.
In truth, I would be the last person to suppose I understood what people want. Basic observations demonstrate just how unpredictable some people are. It amazes me how some people vote. It amazes me what some people think is entertaining. It amazes me what some people think is intelligent. But I do not have to know what people want, because God has already told me what they need. All people need Jesus Christ if they want to go to heaven (Acts 4:12). All people need the gospel (Rom. 10:17). All people need to believe (Heb. 11:6). All people need to repent (Luke 13:3). All people need to confess Christ (Matt. 10:32-33). All people need to be baptized (Mark 16:15-16). And, yes, all people need to be faithful (Rev. 2:10). This may not be the message people want to hear, but it is the message people need to hear. However, God is not going to approve of you just because you have heard this message during worship. He is looking at whether you obey it once you leave.