As we fly through the rest of 2009 and head just as fast into 2010, I have been thinking about a question. It’s a question I posed in church last Sunday. The question is this: What is the normal Christian life? Watchman Nee wrote a book many years ago titled The Normal Christian Life. Our youth group read this book when I was a teenager. I have been thinking about it ever since.
The normal Christian life is something far different than the life of the average Christian. It is something different than what most Christians accept as the course of their lives after salvation. It is the life God purposed us to live in Christ. It is the life God equipped us to live in Christ. It is shockingly simple yet hard to fathom. It is powerful yet only possible when we realize we are powerless. If you accept the fact that God defines reality, then you must reject that the norm of the Christian life is defined by our environment, our churches and our peers. The best we can get when measuring life by our surroundings is “average.” But normal to God is not the same as our “average.”
I am convinced the normal Christian life in God’s view is defined by the following phrase in Galatians 2:20 – “…not I, but Christ…” This is the place where self is no longer our center and point of reference. Christ is now our center and point of reference. Our life is inwardly arranged to live for Him. Our goals, aim, purposes, lifestyle all revolve around Christ. When we define our normal life in Christ the way God sees it, we are released from feelings of inadequacy and self-consciousness due to personal failures, our overall personal condition or situation. We are no longer immersed in these things because we see Christ is at the center of who we really are now.
But it goes even further than this. (Philippians 1:21) “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Notice what this verse does not say. It does not say “For me to live is like Christ, and to die is gain.” I think most people think the Christian life is all about trying to live like Jesus. But that is a recipe for failure when we try to execute this in our own power. The real key to living the Christian life is this: self is dead, Christ is alive. The “normal” Christian life is one where the life of Christ is lived and expressed through us.
I’m convinced there is a desperate need in our churches for something that’s been missing for so long. We’ve come to believe our knowledge, our information; our theology is our relationship with the Lord. We’ve come to believe our mediocrity is God’s definition of normality. We have enough faith to believe God to save us by grace but we don’t believe Him enough to live under grace. In America, we’ve come to believe the presence of the church is the same as the power of God. All the time we are walking in our own power, God is crying out – “I can do this. I can live a life you can never live. If you’ll just trust me, I’ll live through you. I’ve already lived the life you want to live. Just let me.” Are you discouraged? Are you looking for something real? There was a time you looked at the cross and found the reality of God. The cross is still the place where God’s reality and our inability meet. Come to Him with a heart that lays down all the failures, all the broken dreams, all the destroyed relationships. In a moment by moment surrender you can find peace in the midst of it all. Just lay down those things that have captured and burdened your heart. Those things that are holding you back. In the quietness of your surrender you can find a new peace in your mind, a new fire in your soul for God that says…”Not I but Christ…”