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29 & 30 June 2024 (Pastoral Page) A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A NORMAL CHRISTIAN

By Ms Lilian Poon

During my recent study of 1 Corinthians for my paper, I came across this write up that describes the city of Corinth, as follows:


It is not surprising that the culture of the day in Corinth expressed a degree of self-satisfaction, if not complacency, alongside a drive to compete and to succeed. The culture was one of self-promotion alone.[1]


Won’t you agree that the above sounded just like us here in Singapore? We know that the church in Corinth was plagued with serious issues due to their carnality (1 Corinthians 3:1), it goes without saying that it has a lot to do with their worldview moulded by the culture around them that would have permeated within them and the church.


It is a well-established fact that most churches in Singapore belong to the upper-middle class. Most of us should have a comfortable roof over our head, three square meals (or more for some per day), be able to travel a few times a year to more and more exotic destinations. Our concerns are trivial at times, such as lunch or dinner choices, grocery runs or major ones such as the best school to enrol our children in. We may attend church or CG 1-2 times a week, serve in a ministry, work most of the week. A snapshot of a normal Christian in Singapore.


How would a day in life of a typical normal Christian in Singapore look like?


If Paul would write me or our church a letter, what would he say?


As a comparison and food for thought, here are some biblical markers of a normal Christian in the days of the early church advocated by Christ.


23 Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. 25 What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self? 26 Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. (Luke 9:23-26)


The root word for deny (arnéomai) in verse 23 is an imperative that means to renounce, to disregard or prove false. These are strong words and actions. Jesus told all who wished to follow Him to renounce or disregard their own self identities crafted within the framework of carnal worldviews, pride or fleshly strife. In essence, we are to be selfless, to lose that identity we might be so comfortable or proud of, identity built upon accolades of achievements and endorsement. Paul understood this perfectly and nailed it when he said “’I’ve dumped it all in the trash so that I could embrace Christ …” (Philippians 3:8, The Message).


While salvation is free, sanctification and discipleship are not.


It follows on with another more brutal action — take up the cross daily. Contrary to dainty cross pendants we wear as accessory or crosses that we display as part of our home décor, the cross was not so innocuous in ancient Rome. In fact, a cross is a symbol of capital punishment, the most humiliating and painful form of death. Christ’s instruction is a metaphorical but straightforward one. All that we hold dear, we must learn to lay it as a painful sacrifice to God not occasionally, but DAILY.


The cross is a symbol of daily reminder that our lives on earth are not our own, for it was never our own to start with. It once belonged to the kingdom of darkness, but now God, through Christ, had redeemed us back to Himself. Carnality and flesh must go so that the true life of Christ to be manifested through us. Think of it like a cup, if it is full of muddy water, it will never have room for clean fresh water. What is full can never be filled. This principle of displacement would make sense of what it means to lose our cluttered lives to make way for His life of love, joy, and peace to fill us.


What would your life as a normal Christian look in a day? What is the Holy Spirit asking you to let go and give to Him? Are you willing to deny yourself in that one part of your life and take up your cross today to follow Him?


I would encourage us to use this as a starting point to reflect, perhaps study more and ask the Lord how we can be transformed to reflect His image and glory as we continue to live as a normal Christian in modern day Singapore.

[1] Thiselton, Anthony C. The First Epistle to the Corinthians : A Commentary on the Greek Text. [Nachdr.]. Grand Rapids, Mich: Eerdmans, 2007, 7.

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