The Normal Christian Life

“The grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age . . .” Titus 2:11-14

Recently, a man leaped into a lion’s den at the Taipei Zoo to try to convert the king of beasts to Christianity, but was bitten in the leg for his efforts. “Jesus will save you!” shouted the 46-year-old man at two African lions lounging under a tree a few meters away. “Come bite me!” he said with both hands raised, television footage showed.

One of the lions, a large male with a shaggy mane, bit the man in his right leg before zoo workers drove it off with water hoses and tranquilizer guns. Newspapers said that the lions had been fed earlier in the day, otherwise the man might have been more seriously hurt or worse.

Perhaps you feel as defenseless and absurd against the tidal wave of temptation that is bearing down upon you even now, and as you look at the gospel of God’s grace, it seems so ridiculously ill-equipped to give you peace and courage in the face of adversity and temptation. You feel like the man who walked into the lion’s den armed with the name of Jesus and charged with converting the king of beasts.

The gospel (the truth of God’s word as well as the model and merit of Jesus) is not a silver bullet that we keep in our shirt pockets until the exact opportunity presents itself. The gospel is not magic. According to Paul’s letter to Titus and the church on the island of Crete he was pastoring, the gospel is our teacher in two ways: it has authority to declare and it has intention to instruct you.

Titus tells us that grace has appeared to all people and teaches us to say ‘no’ to ungodliness and to live upright, pure lives in the midst of this evil age. This gospel of grace, the reality of your need for a Savior and the real Savior for your need, teaches you (progressively, more and more, in a life-long process) to see through the lies of temptation and the lies of self-reliance - so that we can rest in the Redeemer who holds on to us as his treasured possession.

The following are different views of the Christian life:

  • Do you think that there is a secret to the Christian life that ends the struggle and makes life easy sailing?
  • Have you resigned yourself to failure as a Christian because it seems too hard to change?
  • When you become aware of a shortcoming in your life, do you treat it as a great crisis, either to excuse or to despair over or to seek instantaneous perfection and deliverance?

Here is another description of the Christian life:

“This life, therefore, is not righteousness but growth in righteousness, not health but healing not being but becoming not rest but exercise. We are not yet what we shall be, but we are growing toward it. the process is not yet finished but it is going on; this is not the end but it is the road. All does not yet gleam in glory but all is being purified.” Martin Luther

The “normal” Christian life is a process of being taught, over the course of an entire lifetime, to trust the grace of God and to rest in the fact of God’s determination to purify for himself a people who are zealous for life as he intended.

Today that grace is available for you - Grace to live a normal Christian life.

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