6-Week Series: Against All Odds


Summary: The normal Christian life is one of FULL devotion to Jesus Christ.

“The Normal Christian Life”

Some 250 years ago, two young Moravian men heard of an island in the West Indies which was virtually owned by one plantation master. He was a violent man who treated his slaves with complete contempt. He would not allow them to know anything of Christianity; no minister was permitted to come and form a church among them. So these two young Moravian men, gripped with a burden for a group of people who might never hear about the love of Jesus, sold themselves into slavery to that plantation master. The money they received for their own lives they used to pay for their passage to get to the island. They gave up their lives to go and live among that community of slaves and bring them the gospel.

Their families came to the docks to farewell them, knowing it was highly doubtful they would ever see them again. As the ship pulled out of the harbour, with mothers crying on the shore, the last words ever heard from them was when one of the young men cried out from the ship’s deck: “May the Lamb that was slain receive the reward of His suffering.” That became the catch-cry of the small Moravian community, who sent out 2158 recorded missionaries all over the world. Jesus had died for people who would never hear the gospel unless someone went to tell them.

Now when we hear of those two young men, we are tempted to think “That is not NORMAL! Selling yourself into slavery? Leaving all behind, even grieving family. That is not normal.”

Let me ask you this morning, what IS the “NORMAL” Christian life?

Having searched through what the Bible has to say, I would describe it this way: the normal Christian life is one of FULL DEVOTION to Jesus Christ. Anything less than TOTAL devotion to Him is SUB-normal. Inferior. Not what Jesus intends. Jesus said: “If anyone wants to follow in my footsteps, he must give up ALL rights to himself, take up his cross and follow me.” (Mark 8:34 – J.B. Phillips)

Give up all rights. Follow him. That is the NORMAL Christian life, as described by the Founder. Full devotion to Jesus Christ.

Well, what would that entail? What does full devotion to Jesus look like? One person who was living the normal Christian life was the Apostle Paul – the man who wrote half of the New Testament. Let’s read this morning what HE said was full devotion to Jesus.

READ: Philippians 3:7-16

Paul says five things about a fully devoted follower of Jesus. Firstly…

1. A Fully Devoted Follower of Jesus COUNTS ALL THINGS “LOSS”.

Let me read verses 7-8 again, and notice that THREE times Paul uses this word “loss”. He’s emphasizing it to make a strong point [READ]. Loss! Loss! Loss!

He says: “The things I used to count as “gain” I now count as loss.” What things had he been counting as his great “gains”? Well it’s all listed in verses 4 through 6. He felt he’d made great advances in living a religious life. That God must have been pleased with him … he was head and shoulders above other people. He says: “I was circumcised as a baby – prepared for a God-pleasing life by my parents – I was raised in church. I had the right family connections – generations of God-fearing people. I became a pharisee – a leader in the church. In fact I was a faultless legalist – I paid attention to detail that I never did anything wrong.”

Paul said: “These are what I THOUGHT OF as my ‘gains’. I did have them in the asset column (oh, I was building a big account with God), but I’ve seen their true worthlessness and I’ve now shifted them over into the liability column.”

“LOSS” – the word here is a word used to describe “a loss at sea”. When a fully laden ship was in a raging storm, things would need to be thrown overboard if there was to be any hope of the ship making it through safely. The things they threw overboard were described with this word here (the greek word “zemia”) – LOSS. Paul says “All that stuff was my distraction. I was proud of it. My hopes were in it. So I came to my senses and threw it overboard.

“But not only that”, he says, “I now count ALL THINGS loss to go after Christ.” Nothing in life could be allowed to take his focus from following solely after Jesus. “It’s all rubbish!” he says. Literally: ”It’s dung”. Career, money, possessions, houses, cars, popularity, fame, security, a “nest egg” for the future, fashion, the toys of this world – IT’S ALL RUBBISH. “And I’m not pursuing it anymore. The lot’s gone overboard … that I might gain Christ.” Him, and Him alone. That’s FULL devotion.

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