(Guest Post by: Michelle Hobbs)
I discovered the writings of Watchman Nee about two years ago wandering through a book store’s discount shelves. I had heard of him before but had never read any of his work. So, when I stumbled upon a copy of The Normal Christian Life for $5.00, I snagged it! I am so glad I did! He has easily become one of my favorite authors and teachers.
Watchman Nee was a Bible Teacher and Evangelist in China from approximately 1923 – 1952. He founded over 200 churches and wrote more than 50 books. Starting his ministry while still a university student, Nee gathered small groups in homes and helped them grow into spiritually strong, self-supporting churches. He was arrested for preaching the Gospel in 1952 and was imprisoned until his death in 1972.
Watchman Nee’s books are filled with the forgotten secrets of spiritual strength and power. He pulls no punches in reminding us where we need to step up. I would say, he has much to teach us given his success in living out the Gospel, even under persecution.
Let’s dive into some of the life-changing truth that can be found in just the first chapter of Watchman Nee’s, A Normal Christian Life!
So, what is the “normal” Christian life? Is it the Americanized version of Christianity, where we show up to a church service a couple of times a week, serve on some committees, donate to a few charities?
Oh friends, I for one, am longing for something much deeper and richer than that. My desire, for myself, and for you, is that we would, honestly and for a long while, ponder what Jesus would consider to be the “normal” Christian life.
Considering even a small portion of Jesus’ teaching, the Sermon on the Mount, for example, where He lays out the Beatitudes, can leave us wondering whether it is even possible for a mere human to live up to such expectations. But, that is precisely the point and the good news! It is not possible for a mere human to live up to those expectations.
Our saving grace lies in Galatians 2:20: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” I no longer live, but Christ lives His life in me. You no longer live, but Christ lives His life in you.
So simple. Utterly complete. Undeniably clear. Yet, it still eludes us. Why?
Let me speak for myself here. I look at the Beatitudes and think… How can I be more meek, more merciful? I will donate my time and my money to a charity. How can I become more righteous? I will memorize the whole Bible and quote Scripture to my sinner friends! How can I be a peacemaker? I will bite my tongue, even though I really want to tear that person up for offending me!
Do you hear the problem with my questions and my answers? Those little pronouns that trip us up every time. “I” and “me/my”.
Nee reminds us that, “God makes it quite clear in His Word that He has only one answer to every human need: His Son, Jesus Christ. In all His dealings with us, He works by taking us out of the way and substituting Christ in our place.”
You see, Jesus died instead of you so you can be forgiven. He must live instead of you so that you can live a “normal” Christian life. Jesus was your substitute on the cross who secures your forgiveness, and He must be your substitute in life to secure your victory.
You can donate your time and money to charitable causes, but those you are serving should see Jesus and not you. You absolutely should memorize Scripture, but it should be for the purpose of knowing God and making Him known; to deepen your relationship with Jesus so that He becomes the love of your life. You definitely should hold your tongue and not respond in anger at an offense, but it should be because you are looking at the other person through Jesus eyes; seeing that they are lost and in need of His saving grace.
We can strive to live a Christian life in our own power. We might even succeed in upholding most of Jesus’ commands for a short time, but it will only be for a short time. If our hearts are not truly and completely substituted with Jesus’ heart, our sinful nature will win out eventually. Have you not found that to be true?
The only way to live a “normal” Christian life is to “keep constantly before us this fact: God will answer all our questions in one way and one way only, namely, by showing us more of His Son.”
SO WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSE?
= Do you try to be a “good Christian” on your own most of the time?
= In what way did this post encourage/challenge you today?
= What are you going to do differently?