Have you ever wondered what the day in and day out life of a Christian is supposed to look like? We know the big commands like “Go and make disciples,” and “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and strength.” However, we don’t have a lot of texts that show us how to do these things in the day-to-day life. In my particular denomination (SBC) sometimes we have a tendency to elevate our foreign missionaries to a very high level. If we are not careful, we can make them out to be “Super Christians.” I do not want to downplay the sacrifice required of all of our missionaries, but I also want to be careful not to elevate them to a place that is not God-honoring either. God has called every single Christian to certain standards. He has called us all to do a certain job. The missionary has no higher calling than the school teacher if God has called you to teach school for His glory. So, just what does that normal Christian life look like for both the factory worker and the pastor . . . the missionary and the stay-at-home mom?
Watchman Nee, a church leader and Christian teacher who worked in China during the 20th century, wrote a book nearly 100 years ago entitled “The Normal Christian Life.” In it he wrote, “I do not consecrate myself to be a missionary or a preacher. I consecrate myself to God to do His will where I am, be it in school, office, or kitchen, or wherever He may, in His wisdom, send me.” I believe there is great wisdom in this saying. If we want to see what this looks like, what the “The Normal Christian Life” looks like, I believe we can look at Paul’s exhortation to the Christians in Thessalonica in I Thessalonians 4:1-12. He provides three commands for them that are just as applicable today as they were 2000 years ago.
Be Pure (I Thess. 4:3-8)
To be specific, he tells them and be sexually pure. The word Paul uses here for sexual purity covers every type of sexual sin imagined (if you want a list see Deuteronomy 22). The Christian who lived in Thessalonica lived in a very sexually perverted society, which is not that different from the world we live in today. His instructions to them were simple . . . God has called us to remain pure, and thus you need to remain pure in this area, even if your culture does not. Today we need to be reminded of this as well. Recently statistics have shown that over 50% of men within the church look at pornography on a regular basis, and 30% of pastors have admitted to having an extra marital affair with someone within the church. These statistics are scary and very disheartening. A person cannot have a growing and thriving relationship with God while being sexually impure at the same time. The normal everyday Christian (From John Piper to Jimmy Wright) has been called to be sexually pure . . . day in and day out. You want to be a disciple of Jesus? . . . Be pure.
Be Loving (I Thess. 4:9-10)
The second command Paul gives is to be a person who loves much and loves well . . . specifically to his brother in Christ. They had been taught by God through scripture and the example of Jesus, as well as the example of Paul when he lived with them. They had already been doing a good job of this, yet Paul tells them to do it even more. If we want to know what a disciple of Christ looks like and how one is to act . . . it must start and end with love. Why did the Lord give the spiritual gifts? He gave them for the outbuilding of the church. What is the greatest commandment and the 2nd that is like it? . . . Love. If we want to live a normal Christian life we need to be a people who are known for our love. People should know we are Christians by our love . . . our actions toward others. A disciple of Christ is one who loves the Lord so much that they desire to show their devotion to Him by loving others.
Be Diligent (I Thess. 4:11-12)
The last command that we see is a call for diligence among all of God’s people. He says that we are to be diligent in living a quiet life, minding our own business, and working hard. There are many commands throughout scripture that go along with these charges. One of my favorites is found in II Thessalonians 3:10. It says, “for even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.” (This rule works great with children, by the way, when they don’t want to clean their room.) Christians above all people should be a person that does not want to bring attention to themselves, but at the same time tending closely to what the Lord has given them to do as a vocation according Colossians 3:17, “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” When we understand that our salvation is completely from the Lord and whatever we do we should give Him glory in . . . it should make us want to be diligent in it. This is a normal everyday thing that the Lord has called us to.
Sometimes we over spiritualize what the Lord has called us to do. Because we still battle with our flesh at times it is easy to let a bit of pride creep up in our lives and feel like we want to be noticed. However, I believe Tim Challies has given some good advice when he said that we need to “Be content to be unremarkable.” In a day and age when we elevate Christian pastors and musicians to a level that many believe they will never be able to attain it seems like a good time to remind us all that God may have called us all to different vocations . . . but He has called us all too certainly live the normal Christian life. If you want to live a life that is pleasing to God you need to be sure to Be Pure, Be Loving, and Be Diligent.
Soli Deo Gloria,
Adam B. Burrell