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What is a normal Christian life?
- Jacob Ninan
Is it one where we spend at least 2 hours a day in prayer and reading the Bible? Does every normal Christian share the gospel with at least one person a day? Is it wrong to read a novel or watch a movie? Is it abnormal for Christians to have feelings of anger, sadness, fear or worry?
Perhaps we should first differentiate among 'normal', 'ideal' and 'common.' If we equate 'ideal' with 'normal' we create an unrealistic demand on us. If we equate 'normal' with 'common' we may water down the standards of God. The ideal Christian is one we all ought to aim at being, the perfection we ought to press on to (He.6:1). While we press on we also recognise that we are not going to be 'perfect' as long as we have this flesh. On the other hand we also recognise that the Christian life that is commonly seen is neither the ideal one nor what we ought to have or is possible to have with God's grace because it is sub-standard. So let us define 'normal' Christian life as something that God really expects us to have and which is within our reach.
The normal Christian life cannot be uniform for all Christians! This is because our own ministry calling places certain special requirements on our aims, burdens, preferences and behaviour. An evangelist has goals of winning people for Christ and he may very well think that he should share the gospel with at least one person every day. But is that something everyone can do? Can a mother with small children be expected to spend two hours in Bible study which a Bible teacher enjoys? But are there some things that are common for all who live a 'normal' Christian life?
An active relationship with Jesus is the primary characteristic of a normal Christian. This involves constant interaction, whatever we may be doing on earth. Even when are doing purely earthly things such as eating or drinking we can be in touch with Him (1Co.10:31). This relationship is constantly nourished through reading the Bible, prayer, thinking about Him, asking Him questions, casting our burdens upon Him, asking Him for help, etc.
A desire to be pleasing to Him at all times controls our entire planning, decisions and behaviour. We don't want to sin against Him, and we constantly want to express our gratitude and love for Him in different ways. We do feel the normal emotions just like other people, which in themselves are not wrong, but because we want to be pleasing to God we are always learning how to do things better and better.
We want others also to know our Lord and Saviour. How we do this depends on our special calling, opportunities, etc. Some do it directly and openly, and others do it indirectly, making use of opportunities.
In brief, a normal Christian is different from others in terms of his heart, his desires, his values, etc. But what he does can vary greatly from person to person. One big problem we have is to want others to be like us, and one mark of maturity is to accept others as they are.