Do We Have The Right To Live A Normal Life?
And I give myself as a holy sacrifice for them so they can be made holy by your truth.
John 17:19 (NLT)
Christ had every right to lead a normal life. He was a righteous, law-abiding Jew. The promises of long life and abundance of material blessings was His. Under the Law he deserved to pursue His trade of carpentry, build a home, buy some livestock, marry a wife, and settle down to enjoy the respect of His neighbors, children, and grandchildren.
If Jesus had done this witness would not have been borne, the atonement would not have been made. You and I would be dead in our sins.
Instead He sanctified Himself. He set Himself apart to the service of God. He bore witness to the truth. The truth of Christ has set you and me apart today—many centuries later.
Saul of Tarsus had every right to lead a normal life. After his conversion he continued to be a righteous, Law-observing Jew. The promises of long life and abundance of blessings was his. Saul deserved to pursue his trade of tentmaking, buy a home, marry a wife, and pass his days enjoying his family and the work of his hands (Ecclesiastes 2:24).
But Christ sanctified Paul to the work of the Gospel. Therefore this righteous Jew was denied the material blessings the Scripture promises to the righteous Israelite (Deuteronomy 28:1-13).
Paul suffered much hardship, as we know. He spent his latter days in prison writing his Epistles. But no human being could estimate the amount of spiritual fruit borne by the Epistles of Paul.
How about you and me?
We have a “right” to lead a normal, average life. We can choose to walk in the righteous ways of the Scriptures. The promises of long life and abundance of material blessings are ours if we cease our sinning. We can pursue our “vocation,” buy a house, and spend our time enjoying the good things of the world (provided we live in one of the wealthy nations of the world).
But if we save our life we will lose it. In addition, we will bear no eternal fruit. Those persons—perhaps some yet unborn—who would have been created as eternal servants of God will live out their lives in darkness while we are occupying ourselves with making money, buying a new car, mowing the grass, looking for new furniture, and otherwise hiding our spiritual light under the bushels of materialism.
Each member of the Body of Christ has been called to reveal the Lord Jesus Christ to the world. In addition the Holy Spirit has given him one or more talents at the time of his new birth.
How does the believer, particularly of the affluent nations, determine what his or her talents are?
In the first place, he must recognize that the members of a wealthy culture are at a disadvantage in the Kingdom of God. The Gospel is to be preached to the poor. It is the poor who are the heirs of the Kingdom of God (Luke 6:20; James 2:5).
The abundance of the material environment makes it difficult for the believer to determine his role in the Kingdom of God. The world expends time and energy attempting to convince him he must buy this or that. But he can never possess these “needed” things. They will possess him. They will dictate his joy and sorrow. They will determine the use of his time. They will require his attention and energy.
Each saint must wrench himself away from the distractions of the surrounding culture. He must seize the time and energy to seek the Face of God continually. He must turn away deliberately from the material and seek the spiritual. Such an action requires strength and wisdom on the part of the saint, and God will provide such strength and wisdom if they are requested.
The disciple must present his physical body a living sacrifice. Only by doing this can any individual prove the will of God for his life.
It is not easy to find our place in the Kingdom of God. It requires a determined, energetic approach. The world, Satan, our friends, our flesh, and our self-will—all conspire to pull our attention down to the pleasures and problems of the world.
Sometimes the saint must struggle upward alone in the night, as it were. The whole world appears to be against him as he struggles with God.
It is only as we make a total effort to seek the will of God that we begin to recognize the Divine plan for our life. What is at stake is our crown. It is the crown, the reward, and the rulership that men would take from us.
In the affluent nations it nearly is impossible to develop one’s calling. Riches are so deceitful! It requires all the consecration that can be exercised by the most convinced and dedicated believer if he is to escape the crushing imprisonment and death that result from excessive involvement in the things of the world.
Truly, the Gospel is to the poor. God has chosen the poor of the world but who are rich in faith, as was true of the Christians in Smyrna, to inherit the Kingdom of God.
There is much deception in the land today. “Preachers of the Gospel” are proclaiming to a people already destroyed by excessive concern with material possessions that if they will only believe they can gain more money, more things, and more “chains.”
Are these men apostles of Christ?
We do not believe they are. We do not believe Christ has sent them or that they are proclaiming Christ’s will.
What are we to do in an age of error?
Each of us must do as Jesus did, for as He is, so are we in the world. We must set ourselves apart unto Christ so other people also may be set apart unto Christ. We must continue in Christ’s love so others may become one with us in Christ in God.
We must purify ourselves from all sin and self-seeking. We must devote ourselves to the work of the Lord. The talent the Lord gave us may appear to be small and unimportant. But no talent from the Lord is unimportant. The Holy Spirit who gives us the talents of the Kingdom of God has a purpose in all He does.
If we will diligently employ in the work of the Kingdom what we have been given, the Lord will entrust us with greater responsibilities. We can gain “ten talents” if we will give ourselves to the tasks at hand. Such diligence and faithfulness please the Lord very much.
Many—perhaps most—of God’s people have little idea what their roles are in the Body of Christ, in the Kingdom of God. There may be many excuses for such ignorance, but the Kingdom suffers as a result. It is important in the present hour that each saint begins to do something about his or her responsibility in the Kingdom.
- “I have a wife and family.”
- “I am too young.”
- “I am too old.”
- “I am not trained.”
- “I am too busy!”
- “I will do the Lord’s will when I retire.”
On and on the excuses go but God accepts none of them. The point is, we are to seek first the Kingdom of God. Otherwise our crown will be removed from our head and placed on the head of another who is faithful to the Words of Christ.
The world rocks along toward the reign of Antichrist. Millions are born and millions die. Moral filth is increasing. A tiny minority has been entrusted with the Word of God. God requires that those who have been so entrusted lay aside all diversions and recognize that being a saint is a full-time calling.
Each member of the Body of Christ has been called to the work of the Kingdom of God. This is his responsibility in the world, the meaning of his life.
We can choose to set ourselves apart to growth into sainthood, to the responsibility and work of establishing the Kingdom of God on the earth. If we do we will lose our life for Christ’s sake and the Gospel’s and gain eternal life and fruitfulness in the Kingdom of God.
We can choose to make our occupation in the world the focus of our time and energy. We may gain friends, acclaim, material wealth, and every physical comfort. We can portion out some of this gain for the work of the Gospel when such giving does not require a painful sacrifice on our part.
The moment we die physically our choices will be evaluated. Christ will greet the believer who has dedicated his life to the work of the Kingdom joyfully. He will be welcomed to the fellowship of the saints, to the ranks of those who also have dedicated their lives to the work of the Kingdom of God. His gladness of heart will know no bounds.
But the believer who has struggled so laboriously with the affairs of the world will recognize immediately that he has been deceived. His dedication to the world and neglect of spiritual values will be revealed for all to behold.
One of the most searing pangs of Hell will be the bitter remorse over opportunities forever lost. To think we could have spent our life for eternal gain! Instead we so foolishly chose to occupy ourselves with tinsel, baubles, and the cackling approval of worldliness. What sharp claws will tear our soul in that moment! It could have been so different. So different!
Let the foolish among us choose to occupy their time and strength with the visible world—that which will be done away when the universe is consumed in God’s fire.
Let the wise among us choose to set ourselves apart to the Kingdom of God. As we do so a multitude of others also will be set apart to God by means of the truth our life has become through our Lord Jesus Christ.
We are not suggesting, by the preceding words, that the believer should neglect his family responsibilities. Whether we are husband or wife, father or mother, we have certain commitments that must be taken care of diligently and faithfully. If we do not fulfill our family obligations we are of little use to the Kingdom of God. God will not bless our efforts in Kingdom work.
Neither is it true that the Christian should quit his job and “trust God” for his income. Most members of the Body of Christ must work for a living and they are to perform their work as unto the Lord. The person who is faithful in the lesser will be faithful also in the greater.
The believer who is faithful to his family obligations and his employer will be faithful also in the work of the Kingdom that God assigns to him. The “believer” who “floats” from place to place, not being faithful to his family, not being willing to work conscientiously and energetically, is worthless to the Kingdom of God.