I Want to Live an Extraordinary Life, But…
By Duncan Moore
I’ll let you into a secret. I want to live an extraordinary life. I dream of living a life that counts for something. I dream of being the sort of person who really loves people rather than just wants them to like me. I dream of not getting consumed by the self-centred, materialistic, distracted, spirit-sapping life I see all around me.
But there’s a problem. I’m not an extraordinary person. So what are my prospects? Is there any hope of rising above the monotony of the ordinary?
In 2 Corinthians 5, Paul reveals something quite amazing:
‘If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come… And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.’
How wild is that? My heavenly father is saving the world, and he wants to do it through me. Could I see thousands influenced through my life? Could this nation, this continent, be turned back to God?
Galatians 2:20 offers hope that this is possible:
‘I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.’
I may not be an extraordinary person, but Jesus is. And he’s offering to come and live his life through me by the Spirit.
‘I no longer live but Christ lives in me’
Being holy is simply a matter of living according to our ‘new life’. Simple, but not easy.
According to the ‘old life’, I decide what I want, I come up with a plan to get it and then I make it happen. It’s centred on me and God doesn’t get a look in. By contrast, the new life is very different. I ask what Christ wants, I seek how he would have me go about it, then I ask him to empower me as I go about his business. It’s centred on Christ and that old life doesn’t get a look in.
There’s something wonderful about this idea of being of one heart with God. What he wants is what I want. What I want is what he wants. As that happens, he empowers me to do what he’s asked me to do. My ambitions, hopes and plans are surrendered to his ambitions, hopes and plans.
‘The life I live’
The next thing that Paul says sounds a little paradoxical in light of what came before: ‘The life I live in the body,’ he says. Hang on, I thought you were dead! The great mistake that is often made with this verse is to think that if we’re dead and Christ is living in us, we can be passive and do nothing. Now that may sound stupid, but it’s amazing how many Christians live this way. We profess to want to see people discover Jesus, and may even pray for it, but we rarely talk to our friends, family and neighbours about spiritual things. We think, ‘It will just happen when the time is right.’
Now I can’t save people, but God’s appointed means of saving people is for us to love them and to share the gospel of Jesus with them. Jesus is not passive. If we’re passive, we won’t know the life of Christ which flows through us as we obey. 90% of the obedience that Jesus is looking for is not stuff he will mysteriously reveal to us but things he’s already told us in his Word.
‘I live by faith’
Paul goes on to explain how he lives: ‘The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.’ Apart from Christ I can achieve nothing of significance. Nada. Zip. Nothing. The Christian life is about surrendering ourselves fully to God, holding nothing back. It’s about thoughtfully and practically addressing ourselves to the question of how we will obey what he has called us to do. It’s about trusting him moment by moment to empower what we do, knowing that otherwise its useless bustle. It’s about the life of Christ being active in our activity. It’s about walking day by day by faith.
The extraordinary life is on offer. God has called us to get Jesus to everyone everywhere and to bear much fruit.
But it’s not about God watching me as I summon up all my effort to make this happen. That’s burnout.
It’s not about disengaging, becoming passive and leaving it all to God. That’s depression.
It’s the life of Christ pouring through my life as I surrender, obey and trust. That’s an extraordinary life.
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