The other day I found myself in an opportunity to minister with some awesome brothers of mine, to a person who was not a believer and whose experiences with Christians has been mostly negative.
He didn’t share in any detail what those negative experiences were, but alluded to the problems being the typical (and fair in many cases) labels of self righteousness and judgementalism the secular world sticks onto those who say they follow Jesus.
So in response we decided to take a moment to listen to the Lord and spend some time just encouraging him. No correction or admonition or debating. Just encouragement. It didn’t take long at all for us to feel just how much God loves this person and we began to hear the Lord begin to speak about that love and how much He cares for him and all the great things He wants for his life.
As we began to share with Him what the Lord spoke to us we could hear and feel the emotions start to rise in this person as the loving hand of God touched his heart in a way he’d never experienced.
When we were finished (or rather when God was finished for the moment) he could hardly speak as he wept and told us that no one had ever said things like that to him. He’d had an encounter with a love he didn’t know existed.
When the perfect, self-sacrificial love of God is reflected in His kids there is NO ONE that is left unaffected. When people, believers and unbelievers, get a taste of that love they quickly realize that there is an answer for the cry of their hearts available for them. This is why we need to live like Jesus, to live His life.
The Normal Christian Life.
In my last post I explained why I’m confident that Jesus is the center of everything and that He is established as God’s normal. If you missed or need a quick review it please take a moment to read it here.
So Jesus is God’s normal i.e. Jesus should be our model of normal. I think it’s important to understand what our model of normal (Jesus) charges us with. While there are many things He charges us with there is one I feel really sums it up well.
In Matthew 10:38 He says “Follow me”. This is a charge that is repeated often throughout the New Testament. The amplified explains that when Jesus said, “Follow Me”, He was saying, cleave steadfastly to Me, conforming wholly to My example in living and, if need be, in dying also.
Simply put, our normal should look like what Jesus did, the things He taught, how He ministered etc. To the extent that our lives look like Jesus is the extent to which we truly understand what the normal Christian life is supposed to look like. If it’s less than Christ we are missing it. And we understand that it’s a process like Paul says in Colossians 3:10 so there’s grace for us.
But I’d like to really simplify this because I know that there are many components to the life of Jesus. He did many things and saying we need to model our life after Him can seem confusing and overwhelming. But if we can understand what Jesus said in Matt 22 I think we can get a better grasp. Jesus says in Matt 22 that the greatest commandment is Love. This is simple but so profound.
The normal Christian life looks like self-sacrificial love. That’s it! Everything else flows from that solid foundation and certainly things like miracles and spiritual gifts are important. But if we learn to love as Jesus loves, those things will become a natural outflow of our lives and lives will be changed not really because someone was healed physically, but because they were healed and finally know that they are truly loved! Immorality of all kinds will be defeated because the light of love will destroy the darkness and set captives free as we serve them instead of attempting to control them.
Jesus came to bring the kingdom of Heaven to earth and built it on a foundation of self-sacrificial love. It’s not built on a foundation of miracles, or teaching or spiritual gifts or anything else. It’s built on self-sacrificial love. We must understand the nature of His kingdom. He did not come to establish a kingdom based on the worlds systems. He came to establish a kingdom based on God’s nature. It’s a kingdom of power-under instead of power-over. It’s a kingdom that seeks to serve instead of control.
We can’t be normal followers of Jesus without a foundation of self-sacrificial love. But that’s the journey right? We are all on a journey of being transformed more and more into the image of Jesus. He is love and He is our model. Let love be your passion.
Jesse and Kara Birkey
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