Setting out from England in 1853, Hudson Taylor was the pioneer missionary to China. His fifty-one years of service, and the 800 missionaries who joined the society he formed, resulted in 18,000 conversions. Taylor’s standard of godliness and excellence is a model in modern-day missions.
From his salvation at age 19, Taylor strove fervently to live a godly life. Yet for all his striving, he often experienced defeat and frustration. He wrote letters to his mother begging for prayer in his ongoing struggle with sin. After 15 years on the mission field, Taylor’s life and ministry changed radically when he learned of the pinnacle provision of God’s grace: the opportunity to live an exchanged life.
Scripture explains the exchanged life:
“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 up for me” (Galatians 2:20).
The experience of Hudson Taylor is familiar to many Christians. Seeing the righteous and holy standards of God, we put forth our best effort to attain godliness. In doing so, we experience frustrating cycles of defeat. Our human nature is frail. Our power to change ourselves is gravely limited. Like Taylor, we need to understand the exchanged life: we no longer live. Jesus Christ lives in us. He lives through us as we submit to Him.
In the exchanged life, our hope and trust lie in what Christ has done and will impart to us, not what we can provide and do for ourselves. How do we live such a life? According to Galatians 2:20, we live it by faith. We believe that whatever our need, God will provide. We place our hope and trust in His endless supply. In living the exchanged life, we see the open channel between the Vine of Jesus and our great neediness as a branch. We see it, ask for it and expect to receive all we need through it.
“This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him.”
1 John 4:9