THE NORMAL CHRISTIAN LIFE

In the 25+ years I’ve been following Jesus, I’ve come to realize the Christian experience is a sustained tension between daily duties and deeper desires. I long for a deeper experience of God, more love, more power—what our Christian forefathers called “revival.” But my day-to-day Christian walk is usually rather uneventful and drab, composed of simple duties to be done and deliberate choices to be made. No visions, no speaking in tongues, no trances, no heavenly euphoria. It’s pretty much same old, same old.

It used to distress me, even make me feel guilty, that my normal Christian experience was so… normal. “Where are the tongues of fire and mighty miracles? This is hardly the Christianity I see in the book of Acts. What’s wrong with me?” And so I’d try to pray harder, do better, fast, even forsake some personal interest which I perceived to be spiritually distracting. Usually, my efforts assuaged my guilt for a while, but they produced painfully little in the way of more love and more power. 

Then my pastor preached a sermon from a passage in Luke about the plain ordinariness of many of our Savior’s days here on earth. Because the gospel accounts are packed with so much action and excitement, it’s easy to make the mistake of assuming it was all action and excitement.

His sermon opened my eyes to reread the gospels and Acts and even the epistles with much more realistic eyes. Jesus and friends spent a whole lot of time just walking, eating, sleeping, and chatting. Most of the days of Paul’s missionary journeys aren’t recorded in Acts, and the occasional summary statements imply that the great apostle spent whole weeks traveling, teaching, and doing other very ordinary things. When Paul writes about the Christian life in his letters to the churches, he emphasizes common graces like love and forgiveness, common duties like prayer and evangelism, and common metaphors like farming and athletics.

My conclusion? The Christian life is much more like running a marathon than racing an Indy car. Faithful perseverance is the key. Yes, I still pray hard and often for revival. I still want something more. But sometimes I wonder if it takes just as much spiritual power to be faithful as it does to be sensational.