Yesterday, I took a look at a few halmarks of “NORMAL CHRISTIANITY” or what normal has become for many of us western Christians. Some questions I’m asking of my faith journey is would a first century believer that moved to my neighborhood from Ephesus or Antioch or Jerusalem recognize anything of the way (Acts 9:2) in my normal Christianity? and…
What if Jesus were our standard for Normal? What might Christianity look like? A few thoughts:
- Taking Risk for the Good of Others. Philippians 2:3-8, outlines how Christ’s death was a series of sacrifices for the good of others. From coming to this world in the form of man to dying on a cross, he put others ahead of himself. And we are commanded to do the same, “You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had…” Philippians 2:5 NLT. Following Christ means putting others first even at great risk to yourself.
- I adjust my life to WHATEVER God says. Prior to being crucified for a non-crime, Jesus ask the Father if there was any other way, but qualified his prayer with “Not my will but thine be done.” Normal Christianity seems to believe the chief qualifier is our happiness and pleasure, not God’s will and the good of others. What’s the qualifier for your obedience? Your desire or His?
- Responsiveness to the Needs of Others. One of the key words in the book of Mark is IMMEDIATELY. It’s used many times to describe how Jesus responded to the needs of others. Matthew 9:35, says that he saw the crowds and felt compassion, then responded by sending out disciples to meet their needs. What happens in your heart when you see the needs of others? or hear about a need?
- Upside Down Relationships. You want your faith to stand out? Try following Jesus’ instructions on relationships. Love your enemies. Don’t Judge. When you lend, don’t expect it returned. If someone has something against you, take the initiative to get it right. If someone ask you for a favor, do it times two. I’m convinced that if Christians would make Christ’s relational principles the norm, the world would be shaken.
- Going / Sending. Two of my favorite words in the story of Jesus are “Jesus went.” Speaks of his responsiveness and his desire to take the good news. I’ve said, I’d love for that to be on my grave stone, should I have one. “He went.” Along with those two words we see “Jesus sent.” He didn’t hold on to his followers and see the reasons they weren’t ready. He sent them out, allowing them the opportunity to experience the power of God and be used to expand the kingdom. Am I going? and as a leader, am I releasing and sending? The popular statement among leaders, “the church shouldn’t be known for its seating capacity, but its sending capacity” fits the Christ life and should be the norm. See my post on Creating Sending Capacity.
What else would you add to a list of Jesus norms?
“Mom, I love you Four hundred-million-thousand!” My oldest son did this numbers game when he was younger. He tried to come up with the largest numbers his brain could imagine to describe the height, depth, breadth of his love for mom. (When asked about love for Dad, it was usually just a plain 100 or so. But I’m not bitter). Finally, one day he gave up trying to come up with larger and larger numbers and just proclaimed, “Mom, I love you to the very end!”
That reminded me of the Holy Week story in John 13. The Bible says about Jesus, “He had loved his disciples during his ministry on earth, and now he loved them to the very end” John 13:1 NLT. So what did He do? He “wrapped a towel around his waste, and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet…” John 13:4-5 NLT.
This was just the beginning of a 24-36 hour period of loving them to the end that culminated with his brutal bloody death on the cross. How did Jesus demonstrate how to love to the end? Deep humility and serving others with no boundaries. Jesus’ love said, “I’ll do whatever it takes, without limitation or hesitation, because of my love for you.”
“Yea, that’s Jesus. He’s awesome!” Yes He is, but Jesus called us to this same kind of life. What!
“since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you.”
Philippians 2:5-8 ups the stakes even more:
“You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.
Though he was God,
he did not think of equality with God
as something to cling to.
Instead, he gave up his divine privileges;
he took the humble position of a slave
and was born as a human being.
When he appeared in human form,
he humbled himself in obedience to God
and died a criminal’s death on a cross.”
God desires for us to live with an attitude of “I’ll do whatever it takes” in our relationships with Him and others. Letting go of perks, privileges, social norms, entitlements, and appearances. The opposite is to draw the line. “I’ll not go that far.” Jesus erased his line for us, and calls us to do the same.
Some questions I’m reflecting on:
- Where do I draw the line when it comes to humility, transparency, and serving others? Why?
- Do I allow real or imagined perks, privileges, social norms get in the way of loving people?
- Can I say my attitude toward others is Christ-like with this standard?
- Does my love for God and others have limitations? or is it to the very end?