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The Normal Christian Life

 

THE NORMAL CHRISTIAN LIFE

A couple of weeks ago, as our leaders prayed together, God gave me the word, “radical.”  When I shared it with the group, one of our house group pastors remarked that he got the same word from God a few weeks before and had been teaching on it.  The word radical, as used by God, is not the same as “weird” or “revolutionary.”  Our Lord Jesus was considered a “radical” by the Pharisees and religious leaders of the day.  The same was true regarding His disciples and the early church.  If we compare the lives of God’s heroes in the Bible with our normal Christian living today, their lives would definitely be radical. 

Watchman Nee wrote a book entitled, The Normal Christian Life, in which he expounded on what the Bible tells us about the truly born-again Christian life.  The apostle Paul’s life, desires and attitudes are what Jesus Christ calls “normal” for all followers of the Lord.  “And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after Me is not worthy of Me.”  Mt. 10:38.  “Then said Jesus to His disciples, If any men will come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross, and follow me; for whosoever will save his life, shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for My sake shall find it.”  Mt. 6:24, 25; Mk. 8:24; Mk. 10:21; Lk. 9:23; Lk. 14:27.

The apostle Paul was not afraid of death and even felt that being with Christ in heaven was far better than life on earth.  “According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death.  For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.  But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not.  For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ, which is far better: nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you.”  Phil. 1:20-24.  “Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by thje same rule, let us mijnd the same thing.  Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them  which walk so as ye have us for an example.”  Phil. 3:16-17.

Paul taught the Christians of his day, to “follow us (the apostles),” who were examples to them.”  2 Th. 3:7, 9.  The apostle Peter spoke of how every Christian should follow Jesus Christ, our example.  “For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow His steps.”  1 Pet. 2:21.  We will following the examples of Jesus and His disciples?

There is a wonderful book entitled, Lilies Amongst Thorns, written about Christians in mainland China in the mid-1950’s who were severely beaten, hunted down, tortured, imprisoned and killed because they refused to deny Jesus Christ.  The book is no longer in print and was published in the UK.  Young teenagers, including girls, would travel to different provinces, sleep in the snow and under trucks, with Bibles and tracts in their back packs, to preach the gospel of salvation.  It was illegal to travel outside of your own area without government permit.  They were often beaten severely, thrown into prison and starved.  Millions of Christians in mainland China were martyred for Christ.  Some were imprisoned for thirty-five or fifty years for holding secret church services.  One Christian was imprisoned for ten years for distributing Bibles.  The day after he was released, he was on his bicycle passing out Bibles.  China has experienced the greatest revival/harvest in the twentieth century.  It is estimated that there were over one-hundred million Christians in China by the end of the century.

I’ve met pastors in India who were imprisoned and beaten for preaching the Bible.  Once, my wife and I ministered in Orissa, India, and within a year, hundreds of Christian homes were burned to the ground and many pastors were killed.  Even this past year, thousands of Christians were forced to leave their homes and live in the wilderness.  I met a pastor in Orissa who showed me the many scars on his back that he endured for preaching the gospel.  In Orissa, people were walking in the dark on jungle roads at 2 a.m. to get to church next morning and I saw signs on the highway with a picture of a tiger and words that said, “Beware of Tigers!” according to our hosts.

When my wife and I ministered in mainland China among house churches, we would meet secretly.  The place would be packed with fifty people in a living room, and people in the hallways and lanais.  There were watchmen outside to warn us if the police came.  One woman told me, “If you see us running around and screaming, it’s the police coming to arrest us.  But don’t worry because you are from America and they will release you.”  People came to our meetings after traveling for two hours on a train to get there with their young infant who was one month old.  They would sleep overnight on the floor and leave the next morning for their home in the mountains.  Police were everywhere.  Our poor driver was arrested for loitering because we took too long to come downstairs for our ride.

In Fiji, we once finished a Saturday night service around 11:30 p.m.  We were in a remote area and in the middle of a cane field.  A pastor invited us to sleep overnight at his house, which was a fifty minute drive away, so I could preach at his morning service.  First, however, we took a shower, put on some new clothes and packed a few personal items.  It was 12:30 a.m. before we got into his car.  As we drove through the cane fields, which were pitch-black, we drove past people walking in the dark about five miles from the church we left.  They waved to us vigorously.  “Who are those people?” I asked the driver.  He said, “Oh, those are the people that were at our church service.  They’re walking home now.”  People walked ten miles to and back to attend church.

In the Philippines years ago, we ministered in a fishing village and held three crusade meetings during the evening.  On the way down the mountain to the seashore, we saw a snake on the winding dirt road, about six feet long.  It had been run over by another vehicle.  The last night, our crusade meeting lasted until around 11 p.m. and God performed many healing miracles.  Many were converted.  The next morning, we returned to Manila and were traveling up the mountain with our car.  We were about six or seven miles up the road when we passed a group of young people waving at us.  One young man had a bright orange T-shirt that I recognized from the night before.  Our host pastor explained that these people probably walked as far as they could the night before, slept on the side of the road and then were continuing on.  It was 10 a.m. 

In Davao City in Mindanao, Philippines, people would travel after work for four hours to get to our seminars, sleep on the floor or on chairs, wake up next morning and help prepare the place for our meeting, sleep for the next two nights on the floor or on chairs, with infants.  If you know the Philippines, most of the time the weather is oppressively hot and muggy and most meeting places have corrugated roofs that convert the meeting place into an oven.  I have slept with the people at times (when I was younger) and we would put the chairs facing each other to form a “bed.”  In many places in the Philippines, the windows are just a large hole in the hollow-tile wall, with no screen or any covering.  Huge, flying cockroaches would fly around the room like swarming termites on a hot day.  I thought the Filipino people were used to it, but they would be running around screaming and swatting the roaches too.  Yet, these followers of Christ adored and worshipped. 

Folks, this is the normal Christian life that the apostles talked about.  Being radical is the normal Christian walk.  If you’re afraid of and avoid persecution, torture, imprisonment and even death for the sake of the kingdom of God, you’ll never please God.  God has purposed that all of His sons and daughters carry their own cross and follow Jesus.  Ro. 8:29.  The body of Christ prays for great revival and harvest of souls.  Nothing happens because revival comes with a price.  Revival refers to our hearts.  Jesus would rather we be either hot or cold.  If you’re hot for Jesus, He doesn’t need to revive your heart.  If you’re lukewarm, He will spit you out of His mouth.  If you are cold, God can revive your cold heart; but first we must acknowledge that our hearts have become cold.  Jesus didn’t ask us to just say a sinner’s prayer.  He wants all of you, your life and your heart.  Let us be radical Christians.

 

 


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