Don’t write me off as another false bell-ringer yet. Hear me out. Please?
Given a gracious gift from a very good friend that enabled me the privilege to snag freely from Amazon’s book mine, I was compelled to approach choices that were not only honoring to my friend and God, but choices that would produce lasting fruit in my life and hopefully others.
I immediately went after a couple of books on missions that I secretly coveted but couldn’t bring myself to cough up the cost to own them. Then I downloaded the Message by the prompting of another friend’s use of it on her blog.
While visiting a new subscriber to my blog, through what some will attribute to chance or sheer luck (I know different), a name surfaced that I had not heard in many years, Watchman Nee.
In his offering of The Normal Christian Life, Nee asks his readers to consider just what exactly is normal. Chew on that for a moment… it’s worthy of thought.
The reality of the Christian life, according to Nee, is that God demands of His image-bearers the impossible. Just rehash the Sermon Mount discourse and put your own life in the balance; once again, impossible.
This is Nee’s introductory point. Jesus alone lived up to the standard that everyone is required to live up to. No matter how hard we try, we will fail to meet the mark God has prescribed way out there on His target. So what to do?
Nothing. Nothing? Yeah really, nothing.
It will be vain labor on our part to give the very best effort we can possibly muster on our own, so… take a deep breath, and quit trying.
It seems that Nee recognized the truth of Paul’s admission when he told the Galatians, “It is no longer I, but Christ.” Paul seemed to believe that in some radical way he no longer existed. Instead, where he once lived and dwelled, another now occupied the space, with all rights, privileges, and authorities. And what became of Paul according to his own testimony?
Oh… Oh, there was no longer a Paul to wonder about.
Huh? Yeah, he no longer existed. Put very plainly Paul said, “Jesus is the only one living here now. Don’t waste your time looking for Paul, he’s gone… dead. I can introduce you to Jesus though, because He now lives here. You’ll like Him a lot better, by the way”
The point is that the normal Christian life probably looks much different from what we’ve allowed to be considered normal. Every time we do something that looks abnormal, or don’t do something that looks normal to the life of Christ revealed in Scripture, we are not living the normal Christian life.
Why is this? Come now, let us reason. When we do something that Jesus would not prescribe to (or vice versa), it means that we are reflecting what is contrary to the very nature of the new birth, that we are once again here and that Jesus is not. The normal Christian life does not allow for Jesus and me (my will) to coexist. “It is no longer I, but Him, who lives in me.”
If we take seriously Paul’s words to us about the normal Christian life, Nee suggests we should know that my title to this article is very accurate; Jesus is here. Right now! But then, that will also require us to find that we are not.
Nice, Mr. Nee… disturbing my shallow with a little deep. A depth though that I believe I must journey in thought this day. Maybe a path others will travel also?